SIMPLIFY: Best Writing Tip I Ever Had

cropped-notes-in-moleskine1WRITING SKILL BUILDER. The best writing tip I ever had from my editors–especially from my late dad–was simplify. Always simplify. After you have read all your research materials and have organized and written them into an article (writing the way you talk), then keep re-reading it and taking out what is clutter, irrelevant, and hard to understand. Simplify so that even a grade 4 or 6 pupil can easily read and understand it (I mean a grade schooler with an average IQ, not like me when I was in grade school. I kept attending remedial classes).

Well, there are things you cannot over simplify to a grade schooler’s level–like when you talk about something highly technical–but try to at least make it easily grasped by your laymen readers. I used to love using high-sounding terms in my articles. But when I submitted it to my dad for editing, he mercilessly pruned it to its basics, and I almost cried when I saw my sophisticated vocabulary blackened with a pentel pen. The same thing happened with my other editors. “So why can’t they appreciate long, complicated words and flowery language?” I asked myself.

One day, I read an article plagued with long, complicated words and flowery language and I couldn’t stand reading it for even 20 seconds. Later, I realized it was one of mine. I knew then why my editors did what they did to my articles and I forgave them ever since. Ever eaten spaghetti with 1001 ingredients? I hope you haven’t because it will surely send you to the rest room, fast, and for hours. Nothing beats basic spaghetti with the noodles, sauce, ground meat, meatballs, and cheese.

So write simply. Give your article a nice but simple intro, present the problem, suggest 2 to 3 solutions, tell a bit of your experience, and then wrap it all up with a practical conclusion. Then stop. Don’t think of adding other things just to make your article long or worded with 500 or so words. If you have said everything in 200 or 300 words, then that’s it. I often reach 400 to 500 words and then edit it mercilessly so that the article says only what is within the scope of the title. Don’t have it titled, “Three Ways to Cook an Egg,” and then end up roasting a whole pig–although roasted pig isn’t a bad idea, but that’s for another article.

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