Ever wonder how the professionals do it? I recently interviewed 10 of them, and here’s what they told me.
If you’re interested in hearing our conversations, you can join us in the telesummit, Unlocking the Secrets to Clear Writing, the week of July 25th.
1) Write about complex topics through the lens of real human beings.
Michael Lemonick has written three books—The Georgian Star, Echo of the Big Bang and Other Worlds. All have been praised for their lucidity, and all feature the scientists who have made the discoveries.
Mike and I spoke about the ways that readers resonate with other human beings. By foregrounding the scientists rather than their discoveries, he captures the reader’s attention and draws them into the story while helping them interpret the scientific data in light of the scientists’ own reactions.
2) Know your subject inside and out.
Wildlife biologist Su Jewell has likewise written three books, all of which feature parts of the American southeast in which she has lived.
She shared with me the challenges of freelance writing as a hobby rather than career, one of which is research. While knowledge of your subject matter seems like a no-brainer, many writers are asked to expound upon subjects on which they have only a peripheral knowledge.
Research data, while it has become faster and more readily available, has also become less detailed. And it is the dedicated writer who will spend time in libraries, searching through specialized databases, and conducting field research with people and places to be sure her descriptions are accurate and compelling.
3) Write in plain English.
Cheryl Stephens is the founder of Plain Language Association International and author of Plain Language in Plain English. She and I discussed several ways that authors can make plain language a daily habit, the first of which is to consider your audience.
Cheryl also suggested using headlines and subheadings to help your reader scan the text. She and I agreed that pronouns keep the writing personable. And short sentences work best, especially on the internet.
4) Be conscious of your sentence structure.
Cheryl Glenn is the professor of rhetoric and composition at Penn State, and author of Hodges Harbrace Handbook as well as numerous studies of rhetoric, democracy, and women.
Cheryl and I discussed the various types of sentence structure and how women can familiarize themselves with their own style. She suggested that writers study their own habits to achieve balance. And she emphasized keeping subjects and verbs close to one another and at the front of the clause.
5) Read widely.
In a lively and delightful conversation, Bethanne Patrick shared her love of all things bookish. And she reminded us that the best way to become a good writer is to remain a passionate and devoted reader.
These are just the highlights of conversations that I am sure you will want to hear for yourself. Please join us, the week of July 25th, on Unlocking the Secrets to Clear Writing. For more information and to register, visit http://corporatewritingpro.com/ulreg.html
And for speaker schedules and biographical details, check out http://corporatewritingpro.com/ulspeakers.html.