“Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” - Bill Wheeler
Good writing represents clear thinking. But sometimes even if we have clarity of thoughts, the improper presentation leads to bad writing. Thus good and clear writing often seems to be a daunting task. But it’s a craft that can be learnt by frequent practice. To enable clear writing here are 5 tips to be followed:
1) Decide your audience
The first and foremost thing to be done even before the actual writing takes place is to decide the audience. Finding the answers to a set of vital questions can definitely assist in reaching out the target audience and thus help in achieving clear writing. Who are the readers? Do they comprise neophytes or experts? What are their expectations from the piece of writing? By getting the answers to all these questions try to create a mental image of the reader and then write articles that are clear and simple for them to read and understand. By now you must have got a clear picture of the level of writing so as to match the readers.
2) Carefully craft the topic, content, structure and format
After deciding the audience, choose the topic that is consistent with the interest of the target readers.
Then spend an ample amount of time thinking and researching the content. Decide what should be included and what should be discarded? And also how the information should be conveyed?
The very next thing that is to be considered and is also an indispensable part of writing is the logical flow of writing. This logical flow of writing symbolizes the continuity of thoughts which can be exhibited by a well-structured article. To have a proper structure, you should differentiate the writing into well-defined headings and subheadings with appropriate usage.
Readers usually don’t like to read articles that look dense and are tightly packed with information. Here the white spaces and the bullet points forming a major part of the format of articles can come to the rescue. Using this appropriately can bring a whole lot of difference.
Margins should be used on both sides of the writing and double spaces should be used between two paragraphs so that the readers can breathe in ease.
Instead of writing in clumsy paragraphs, you can organize bullet points in a logical structure for better and clear understanding of ideas.
Try to avoid:
In order to practice clear writing you should at first decide your audience. Then you should carefully craft the topic, content, structure and format. You can then maintain brevity of words, add visualization and finally read and revise to identify the errors.
For a clear writing-
3) Embrace brevity
Practicing brevity is the key success to clear writing. Brevity simply means using fewer words but saying more. For that you need to practice writing short and simple sentences. A long sentence makes it more complicated to understand the underlying idea and increases the chances of committing more mistakes. You may practice writing shorter sentences by breaking one long sentence into several shorter ones and inserting periods instead of commas.
Try to avoid:
I have been engaged in writing for a year after completing my short term course in creative writing from a reputed institute, yet none of my articles have got published. (Long Sentence)
I have been engaged in writing for a year after completing my short term course in creative writing from a reputed institute. Yet none of my articles have got published. (Short Sentences)
Moreover you do need to eliminate unnecessary and redundant words and phrases.
Try to avoid:
Let me briefly summarize this research article. (Redundant words)
Let me summarize this research article. (Redundant words eliminated)
You should also use active voice instead of passive voice because that energizes the sentences.
Try to avoid:
Articles are written by many people. (Passive Voice)
Many people write articles. (Active Voice)
Even the enrichment of vocabulary often helps in one word substitution and usage of exact contextual words.
Try to avoid:
Mahatma Gandhi cared about others and helped them.
Mahatma Gandhi was an altruist.
4) Add visualization
It’s rightly said that- “One picture is worth a thousand words” which means that multiple, complex messages can be efficiently conveyed by just a single picture. A picture, image, chart or a diagram can add visualization and bring clarity to the writing. Here, the artistic skills are not desired. So a simple drawing using shapes and symbols can serve the purpose.
We can write:
Communication process is a two way process where the sender sends the information or message to the receiver and the receiver on getting the message sends acknowledgement or feedback.
But, preferred :
5) Read and Revise
Self-editing by reading and revising the article several times is a must to make the article error free and enhance the clarity of it. You should keep the article at rest and then revisit it with fresh eyes. At first, on revisiting the article you can check the flow of writing and then you can watch for its brevity as per the aforementioned instructions. You should be careful with the spellings and take the help of spelling checkers. After you proofread the article, you can ask somebody else to proofread for you so as to bring to your notice the left out typographical errors and get rid of it.
Remember that editing occupies the last stage of your clear writing. So please keep your internal editor turned off initially while writing otherwise it may obstruct the ideas from emanating and interrupt with the free flow of writing.
A clear writing through a difficult task can eventually be achieved by following these tips and frequent practice. Initially we can get bad writing but always remember that a bad writing is far better than a blank writing. So stop thinking and start writing!