I work fulltime as a copywriter, which means I spend most of my day composing text. I have learned a few tricks on how to make text more readable. Often when I see other writers’ work, I notice two main problems with it.
I use Grammarly’s online proofreader because being accurate is very important to me as a writer, and I’m sure it is to you too!
Problem number one: not writing with a story arc
Often writers don’t have the reader in mind when crafting text. Your writing needs to have a point, even if that point is banal. Often when I see other writers’ writing, it drifts here and there in a sort of “stream of consciousness”, “diary-style” writing, usually without a beginning, middle and end.
Any piece of writing needs to have an arc and a point to it, unless it truly is a diary entry that you don’t intend to be read and loved by others. When you write, ask yourself “What is the point of this piece?” and when you re-read it, make sure that the writing communicates the point.
Is your writing intended to sell something, highlight and idea, argue a point? Is your writing supposed to describe something from beginning to end? Is it supposed to summarise a piece of research or explain something? Is it a collection of ideas that add up to a new idea? Often when I see unexperienced writers’ writing, they write selfishly. They write for themselves and make the reader dig through their work to get something from it. People are busy. Make it easy for them.
Problem number two: not making use of sub headings and bullet points
This is particularly relevant for people who write for the web. It’s really important to make your writing ‘scannable’ so that a reader can get the idea of what you are talking about easily. Another technique to use is to make good use of bullet points and numbered lists. These are easy for the eye to fall to and can get your point across more simply than via sentence-strung text.
The Oxford Dictionary says: “Bullet points are visually attractive and make it easy for a reader to locate important information. Nevertheless, you should try to use them sparingly: too many bullet-pointed sections in the same document will mean that their impact is lost.”
Alyce’s favourite writing tips
- Write with a story arc
- Write with your reader in mind
- Make sure your writing has a point, and that this is communicated
- Make use of bullet points
- Use sub headings to separate information
Why sub headings are so useful for bloggers
Subheadings help you to sort out your own information and ideas into blocks. They also help the reader locate information on a page. When I read a book, I have a slightly photographic memory. I am not special, in fact, there are some reports that up to 20% of people have an eidetic memory and that this is more common in girls than boys.
Do you have a photographic memory?
There are other reports that most of us have this skill as children, and that it fades by age 6 or so. Mine is quite weak now, but ever since I was a teenager I have felt confident that I can remember which section of a page a piece of information is located on, which really helped as back in the 90s we studied from books, not the internet.
I can look at a page of text in magazine or newspaper (perhaps I’m looking at thousands of words) and I can ‘remember’ where a particular line or block of information is located on the page. Can you do this too? It’s pretty common from what I’ve heard. I had a great memory as a kid. These days I find it hard to remember what I did yesterday!
Sub headings break up information
If I don’t have time to read a whole document, I scan it. I am a busy reader and every day I take in tweets, articles, papers, blogs, posts and books. If I’m not reading, I’m usually writing, having sex or eating. It’s a bloody good life, I tell you. I need writers to make their writing readable for me – and when they break up the information with sub headings, I can get though a piece of writing more quickly.
Helen Reimer has said: “By using subtitles in your writings your readers will be able to see at a glance whether you have the information they are looking for. But if you have one lengthy article, they will have no way of knowing whether or not you have the information they are looking for, unless they read the whole article.”
My best piece of advice for writers and bloggers
Just write with a reader in mind. Make your writing about your reader, not you. Really, I guess, this post has kind of been all about me, but hopefully you were able to get something from it too – please let me know your thoughts.
If you would like to read more about ME, I have some selfish posts for you here:
- The things I love and hate about my body
- A post about my big boobs
- Terrible posts about when my ex boyfriend and I broke up here and here and here (and thank god we did!)
- And why I love men with beards
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I appreciate it and look forward to you stopping by again soon.