K.I.S.S. Bad Writing Goodbye

Hi folks! Today we have a guest post from Grammarly.com’s Nikolas Baron, who’s written an excellent piece that offers great advice on how to keep your writing simple and easy to digest. I learned a lot from this piece and highly recommend it. Thanks for sharing it, Nick. Now without further ado…

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In this post, I’m going to try to convince you that not only is simple writing more pleasant for readers, it is also a perfect method to KISS bad writing goodbye. Our mantra for today – K.I.S.S. Keep It Super Simple.

With this goal in mind, my entire entry will be written whilst I refrain from using any words more than two sound units. I borrowed this superb idea from Ruth Randell, a writer who wrote a novel that targets British adults whom she has observed to struggle with getting past the headlines in the press. I must admit that this exercise practice, with the added constraint, was initially a challenge at the beginning start, but trust me, with some effort, your brain will rewire itself without much of a struggle.

The thing about writing is that the more complex it is, the more readers you’ll be leaving out. And frankly, unless you’re writing a PhD in neural science on lab monkeys, I’m guessing you’ll want as big of a target audience as you can get. No one wants to be baffled by hard words or abstruse terms. So my first advice is to keep the jargon at the door.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you should unlearn what English teachers taught you since grade school. I don’t want to be the one children quote when they want to drop out. What I’m saying is quite the contrary opposite REVERSE (that’s the word). Big words do have their rightful place as well, but that isn’t what makes for the kind of poignant writing we’re striving towards. What is helpful about giving this practice a shot is that it forces you to exhaust every single word that you can think of in an attempt to convey your thoughts in a clear and concise fashion.

Next, don’t pen down the first thing you think of. That is a feature linked to writers who can’t quite be bothered to invest time in cutting down their ideas. Your final product shouldn’t look like an exact copy of your draft. The process of any skilled writer will bring you through a journey, from a series of cluttered musings due to the urge to say many things, to a shorter, more modest display of words. This very aptly discerns between a novice and a writer who has honed his skill.

If you’re now starting to fathom how simple is really not that easy, I’ll let you in on the golden rule. Keep it to one idea per sentence. Not only will this be the ticket to solving your grammar issues, shorter lines also make for writing that brings more of an impact to your readers. Research shows that a normal person can focus without strained efforts for up to eight seconds, one second less than a goldfish. Now, I’m not sure what you inferred from that, but as the species that reside on top of the food chain, let’s pray that the goldfish don’t find out their knack for longer brain function than us. Who knows what a world governed by fishes would be like.

Lastly, keeping it super simple usually requires a heavy changing of words and phrases, where the delete key will become your best friend – don’t hate it. Always look out for words that you can cut out. Usually, a ‘finished’ text can be reduced by at least ten percent. At the same time, don’t forget to check for slip-ups with grammar. Be a grammar Nazi and grammar check every line, leaving no stone unturned. To lighten my load, I like to employ the help of Grammarly (the only three-sound unit word I’d use) to double-check certain rigid rules of the language.

And it’s done! We survived this post using only of two-sound words! It wasn’t that hard, was it?

By Nikolas Baron

Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 4: Talking Limerence with Ash Krafton

Welcome back to the Pathways of the Dead blog tour. Today, we have Day 4 and a guest post for the incomparable Ash Krafton. I crafted an entry today that talks about the difference between love and limerence (something that’s been very much on my mind with the subject matter of my next novel) and how that relates to the story of Among the Dead. Here’s an excerpt:

Limerence, then, is that crazy phase where you can’t get someone out of your mind and drive your friends out of their minds with constant chatter about the new love of your life. Every waking minute may be filled with a desire to be with that person, a burning need only quenched by proximity to the target. It’s a head-spinning, heart-pounding, pleasant-and-awful crazy rush of endorphins flooding your body. Opinions differ on what triggers this particular state, but most psychologists agree that it’s a recognition of something familiar in that other person, and that familiar trait may be good or bad. Add this to people writing songs about this state of mind, lauding it as “true love” and you have a recipe for something quite dangerous and addictive.

If you’re interested, hop over to the post and show that blog some love. Go on, do it!

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.