A Writing Assignment

Last night I gave my students an interesting assignment. I want them to write about a person or an event that changed their lives. Everybody has something like that in their background, especially when everyone in the class is an adult. I can’t wait for the results.

The great thing about beginning writers is they don’t think they’re writers. They write a topic sentence, give some examples and tie it up in a one-sentence conclusion. Then they go on with their lives. Oh, what lessons we can learn from them!

They intuitively know the most basic rules of good writing. If you’ve forgotten them, let me refresh your memory.

1. Have something to say — then say it.

2. Give specific examples.

3. Use simple words.

4. Write concise sentences.

5. Use ACTIVE VOICE – “Passive voice bores people.”

6. Keep paragraphs short. (That goes for chapters, too.)

7. Cut the fluff – words like “very” bury your message.

8. Don’t ramble – cut to the chase.

9. Redundancy is death. (Readers get it the first time.)

10. Go back and tighten it up further.

In our world of instant everything, people want messages and stories quickly. If you’re writing complex sentences, cut it out! All you’re doing is shouting to the world that you are small-minded and hiding behind your puffy words. To sound smart, stop trying to sound smart.

All you have to do is know where you are going and help others to get there.

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