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Read It Aloud

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 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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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

  • 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.
  • ...

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

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.

  • 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...

  • 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...

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.

  • 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...

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.

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.

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