You’re ready to make some noise this July 4th weekend and celebrate what Bob Seger refers to as “the height of summer.” So maybe writing isn’t a priority over the next few days, but there are plenty of ways to add color and crackle to your writing all year long. Here are three of them:
1. Get active.
Clean, clear and concise writing relies on consistent use of the active voice — an action verb denoting what the subject is doing.
Elizabeth hand-delivered her manuscript to her editor’s office in downtown New York.
The manuscript was delivered by Elizabeth herself to her editor’s office in downtown New York.
Remember: Past tense or awkward construction often suggest passive voice. Using the active voice may not always be possible, but doing so often keeps readers engaged and prevents you from becoming a lazy (and boring) writer.
2. Google a thesaurus.
Better yet, just go to Thesaurus.com and land on my favorite site for synonyms and antonyms. Finding the exact word you need is easier and quicker than ever these days, thanks to the online migration of dictionaries and thesauri from unwieldy books containing hundreds of thin pages laden with small type.
Thesaurus.com presents synonyms in both relevant and alphabetical order. A search for “write” as a verb yields such dandies as “scribble,” “formulate,” “set forth” and the not-recommended-at-all “push a pencil.” Elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of suggestions for avoiding overused business and resume terms like “responsible,” “strategic” and “innovative.
3. Make people care.
Write with a purpose that never waivers. Nobody wants to read an unfocused email, a press release loaded with run-on sentences and peripheral details, or a blog post without a point. Giving readers a reason to care is an especially difficult challenge in social media posts and comments. But if you have nothing of value to say about that Facebook photo of your friend’s dog in a canoe, don’t comment with a worthless “Cute!” or “Ha!” Better to not write anything at all.