Ideas from books, articles & podcasts.
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 repetitions.
Reading something aloud is a good way of stress-testing it: you’ll notice the rhythm more. Also, you’ll notice very abruptly if your sentences are too long or confusing.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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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