Sunday, June 29, 2008

Effective writing: Words count, so you may want to count your words

I recently spent a few days in Duluth, a place where some people claim Mark Twain once said that he experienced "the coldest winter" in his life: "July in Duluth." What a thing to say about a lovely city by a sweet-water sea.

I was presenting a writing seminar for a group of supervisors and managers. While in town, I happened to find myself aboard a sailboat in a regatta with a six-person crew and a captain who really knew his stuff.

As at most of my seminars, we worked on eliminating common errors such as the word choice error in "She didn't intend to flaunt the rules." We also practiced applying certain stylistic techniques that increase clarity and emphasis, techniques such as taking advantage of the natural stress that occurs at the end of sentences. For example, we revised the sentence "We must do something now about the problems we are experiencing" to "We must do something about these problems now."

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