How to create clear, concise and compelling compositions


Effective writing is clear, concise and compelling.

Avoid redundancy.  In casual conversation, it is rare that the same idea is expressed two different ways, unless the concept is unclear to the person you are speaking to.  Keep your writing concise; experiment with your ideas and, if you’re still unsure, create several ways of saying the same thing, then choose the clearest way.

Use your words.  If there is a word to describe what you’re trying to say, use it.  Rather than saying someone is “next to last” in line, say they are “penultimate”.  Should something require “completion in a timely manner,” simply “finish it quickly.” Instead of proposing that you omit words or phrases that don’t add value or meaning, simply suggest “removing the deadwood.”

Learn the rules.  It’s imperative to know where punctuation goes.  Understanding definitions among homophones, some argue, can make or break your career.  Learn how they’re used and their definitions.  To some, oronyms are important, too; ensure you are utilizing the appropriate words in idioms and phrases.  Burning bridges is not the same as burning britches.  Do you toe the line or tow the line?  If there is even a shred of doubt in the correctness of a phrase or word you want to use, do your research.  Inaccuracy of this sort reflects poorly on the writer (you).

Recite.  Read everything you write out loud.  Reading silently at your desk is a completely different experience than reciting your work.  Vocalizing your writing will give you a better sense of the tone of the work, help you through idea transitions and identify sentences or word combinations that the reader could potentially stumble over.


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