Sorry, technical writing teachers, Scott Adams just put you out of business. Or so sayeth he. Reasonable advice, yet a tad incomplete.
The Dilbert Blog: The Day You Became A Better Writer
went from being a bad writer to a good writer after taking a one-day course in â€œbusiness writing.â€ I couldnâ€™t believe how simple it was. Iâ€™ll tell you the main tricks here so you donâ€™t have to waste a day in class.
Business writing is about clarity and persuasion. The main technique is keeping things simple. Simple writing is persuasive. A good argument in five sentences will sway more people than a brilliant argument in a hundred sentences. Donâ€™t fight it.
Simple means getting rid of extra words. Donâ€™t write, â€œHe was very happyâ€ when you can write â€œHe was happy.â€ You think the word â€œveryâ€ adds something. It doesnâ€™t. Prune your sentences.
Humor writing is a lot like business writing. It needs to be simple. The main difference is in the choice of words. For humor, donâ€™t say â€œdrinkâ€ when you can say â€œswill.â€
Your first sentence needs to grab the reader. Go back and read my first sentence to this post. I rewrote it a dozen times. It makes you curious. Thatâ€™s the key.
Write short sentences. Avoid putting multiple thoughts in one sentence. Readers arenâ€™t as smart as youâ€™d think.
Learn how brains organize ideas. Readers comprehend â€œthe boy hit the ballâ€ quicker than â€œthe ball was hit by the boy.â€ Both sentences mean the same, but itâ€™s easier to imagine the object (the boy) before the action (the hitting). All brains work that way. (Notice I didnâ€™t say, â€œThat is the way all brains workâ€?)
Thatâ€™s it. You just learned 80% of the rules of good writing. Youâ€™re welcome.