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Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Be a Better Writer: 6 Tips From Harvard’s Steven Pinker

Here are six of Steven’s tips for good writing:
  1. Be visual and conversational. Be concrete, make your reader see and stop trying to impress.
  2. Beware “the curse of knowledge.” Have someone read your work and tell you if it makes sense. Your own brain cannot be trusted.
  3. Don’t bury the lead. Clarity beats suspense. If they don’t know what it’s about they can’t follow along.
  4. You don’t have to play by the rules, but try. If you play it straight 99% of the time, that 1% will really shine.
  5. Read Read Read. The English language is too complex to learn from one book. Never stop learning.
  6. Good writing means revising. Never hit “send” or “print” without reviewing your work — preferably multiple times.
Rules, rules, rules. There is a science behind these words but as Steven makes clear, language is ever-evolving. It’s organic and alive.

1 comment:

Anthony J. Langford said...

Making the work accessible is a big thing for me. I'd rather a phrase ring true than be clever for the sake of it.