Thursday, November 1, 2007

You Might As Well Have Written Nothing

This is what Skellie, guest poster for Brian Clark of Copyblogger said when he brought up the point that readers need to understand what you write. Read the post in its entirety.

When you have an earth shattering idea the world needs to hear, it won't mean a thing if readers cannot understand it.

Skellie elaborates on five tactics to help you write clearly and expressively.

Another important detail to learn how to become a better writer is to follow Brian Clark's 10 steps. You will be amazed by the simplicity of it all.

Write it down,



  1. It's good you have the skills and service to help folks clarify their writing. I did tech writing, educational writing, marketing writing...almost any kind of writing you might want to mention before throwing myself into creative writing. No writing, of any type,is wasted. It's all practice. And with your help, folks can get their messages out more clearly.


  2. I agree Janet that writing is never wasted. The connection between an author and a reader is special.

    Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Hi Carma,

    I love the resource links on this post. Brian Clark's 10 steps made me laugh out loud.

    Like you said, without laughter we cannot function.

    Happy Trails,

    JJ Murphy

  4. I am working on a blog just now focusing on the reading age in the UK (which some reports put as low as nine) and I can't help but have mixed feelings about any article that promotes simplicity in writing.

    If I use a particularly odd word in my blogs I turn it into a hyperlink so the definition is there right away. I choose my words very carefully and a few short words doesn't always equal one big one. We want to encourage people to improve their reading skills not talk down to them.

    I also use hyperlinks where I talk about a source which I expect most people will be unfamiliar with.

    I do agree that the Web format is more suited to a journalistic style of writing but one sentence per paragraph is perhaps pushing it.

    Very interesting read though. I may well link to it in my blog.

  5. I agree, Carma. Write completely. It's so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts. I was just at a blog where the blogger assumed that all visitors were friends or frequent visitors. I got the gist of the story but none of the details, including the title of her book. Thank for the reminder. Wish I'd had it for The Frugal Editor, by book that was just released and also was just named USA Book News best book in the publishing category.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  6. The advice on your blog is invaluable for beginning writers and others of us who've been around for a while.
    Thanks so much for a useful and good looking site!

  7. Hi JJ. So good to have you stop by. I got a good laugh out of Brian Clark's 10 steps as well. They also made me realize (again) writing does not happen without actual effort.

  8. Hello Jim,
    I didn't mean that writers need to lower their standards to communicate with their readers at all. I am not one for lowering standards.

    Hyperlinking unusual and difficult words is a fantastic idea. That is the type of simplicity I am talking about. This is how you can teach poor grammatical readers to become better.

    Unfortunately the reading level here in the US does not fair much better than the UK from what I have heard.

    I think a writer needs to make sure their message or intent is clear.

    It saddens me when I hear a large majority of people never read again after high school.

    Look forward to talking to you again.

  9. Hi Carolyn,
    Congratulations for The Frugal Editor award.

    You do amazing things with your newsletters. I always find loads of valuable information.

    Which is it? Say what you mean or mean what you say. At least when we write we have the opportunity to take it back before everyone hears it.

  10. Kathleen, you are so kind.
    Thank you.

  11. Well, I sent you a message, but I think it never got posted here, so just in case, I want to write you again. I just loved your blog! It is rich in positive and wonderful enthusiasm! I watched the video of free hugs and made me smile and I felt so good as I watched it! I wanted to hug my wife, but it was 5:30 AM and she was asleep and I thought that might be counter productive!!! ;>) It was wonderful and I showed to all my students tonight!

    I thank you for your advice and I will follow it and i think it is wise. Blessings to you and Thanks again!
    Steven Clark Bradley

  12. Thanks for the response. The thing about school is that you don't get to pick what you read there, at least I didn't. Personally I was very lucky in that I got introduced to writers like Orwell and Larkin especially who made total sense to me.

    I asked the question somewhere if to verb 'to savour' has become defunct. Think of it in terms of food: there are ads on the TV all the time for food stores like Iceland – two curries for a £1 (you get the idea) – and there are kids out there whose mother's never bake and the only cooking they do is reheating. It's all they know.

    Eating to live and reading because you're made to are not poles apart but decent food and good reading are both an acquired taste and people needed wee tasters here and there, like they do in supermarkets. Step up flash fiction.

    The internet is built around the fast food mentality, little gobbets of information that don't take much digestion, but the thing is, the important thing is that this is where the readers of the future are, looking to be entertained and it is still a word-centric environment. This is where we can get to fire their imaginations.

    We can make a difference.