To cut your syllable count, make subjects characters
“It is good to write clearly,” wrote Joseph M. Williams, “and anyone can.”
Williams developed “The Little Red Schoolhouse” writing course at the University of Chicago. The course focused on writing clear sentences, cohesive paragraphs and graceful pieces.
Make your content marketing pieces, intranet articles, email newsletters and other stories clearer and more interesting by following these three tips from Little Red Schoolhouse:
1. Write about people doing things.
Think of your sentences as stories with clearly identifiable characters acting concretely.
“Its failure could affect vehicle directional control, particularly during heavy brake application.”
“You won’t be able to steer when you put on the brakes.”
2. Make subjects characters.
Write about people doing things, not about things doing things.
“Our expectation was for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that management interference with the strike or harassment of picketing workers was not permitted.”
“We expected the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rule that management could not interfere with the strike or harass picketing workers.”
3. Turn actions into verbs.
Write in verbs, not nouns.
“Growth occurred in Pinocchio’s nose when lies were told by him to Geppetto.”
“Pinocchio’s nose grew longer when he lied to Geppetto.”
Corollary: Nix nominalizations, or words that turn verbs (like explain) into nouns (like explanation).
What’s black and white and read all over?
Your content marketing piece, when you follow these simple rules.