Don't press send ... The new rules for good writing in the 21st century - Deepstash

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Don't press send ... The new rules for good writing in the 21st century

theguardian.com

Letters Of Complaint

Be polite. The person who gets your letter will seldom be the one who wronged you. And is unlikely to pass it on to the desired recipient if you are insulting and raging.

Make plain how you’ve been inconvenienced, then propose what’ll seem to your correspondent a reasonable and pr...

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Letters To Friends

Always remember that your job, writing to a friend, is to entertain. That can mean revelling in the odd pratfall. So, don’t just write about the mundane and pleasant things, try to give them the whole picture and make them feel something.

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Letters Of Condolence

  • You are extending respect and friendship. Write quickly, and preferably by hand.
  • You’ll want to calibrate what you write to your relationship both with the recipient and with the deceased. Make it personal.
  • If you knew the deceased well, sharing a couple of warm memories will...

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Love Letters

The love letter is about attention. You’re being your best self – most alive to the world, most engaged with the other – so that the attention you’re paying to them becomes a fantastic compliment.

Some say that what makes a relationship work is not how you feel about the other person...

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Writing For Digital

  • Keep up to date as language changes fast on the Internet.
  • Digital writing is about getting and retaining attention as different digital information sources are constantly vying to capture it.
  • Pictures go further than text alone.
  • Emotional content – anger, humor, cur...

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Email

  • Take a moment to consider how your email will be received and if your tone and style are appropriate to the receiver and the situation.
  • Emailing strangers asks for the same level of formality as a paper-and-ink letter.
  • Friendly is fine; presumptuous is risky.
  • Flaggin...

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Social Media

  • Tone often fails to travel online. Irony, self-mockery or dark humor can easily be parsed as bigotry for example.
  • You have multiple potential audiences, some will not be sympathetic. Even on closed websites, you should consider how your words would be perceived by outsiders.
  • ...

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Speak To Your Audience

Forget what you know and want. Everything, from the shape of your argument to the choice of vocabulary, should be governed by your audience’s receptivity.

The key principle of persuasive writing is customer service. Ask what they do and don’t know about the subject, and what they nee...

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Be Clear

Plain English (the simplest word that does the job; straightforward sentences; nice active verbs etc) is far from the only style you should have at your command. But the plainer the language, the easier the reader finds it and the more likely they’ll take in your message.

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Be Correct

Language changes according to usage and there’s no referee or court of appeal. With some nonstandard usages increasing the expressive range of the language and its precision.

All that being said, many readers place a premium on “correctness”, or the idea of it. Besides, it implies intell...

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Simple Sentences

English audiences prefer short sentences and a subject-verb-object order.

Avoid a huge series of modifying clauses and parenthesis before you reach the subject of the sentence, else the reader’s brain will be working harder to make sense of the sentence. Meanwhile, you’re dist...

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Read It Aloud

Most of what gets described as “good writing” is so described because – one way or another – it sounds right. It flows and slows when it should, the stresses fall naturally on the words that the writer wants to emphasize and the reader doesn’t stumble over unintended internal rhymes or clumsy rep...

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