How to have Great handwriting

how to have a great writing style and how to write a great writing sample and how to do great writing
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Dr.KiaraSimpson,United States,Researcher
Published Date:05-07-2017
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Secret Sauce Of Great Writing Tips From A Top Newspaper Editor Shani Raja Secret Sauce Of Great Writing How I Discovered The Secret Sauce Do you reckon you’re a good writer? A great one? Perhaps you think you’re awesome? I confess: I used to think I was awesome. At school and university, I got excellent grades for most of my writing assignments. As a result, for years I had an unshakable confidence that I was a brilliant writer. Then I became a journalist. I worked for some of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines—the likes of the Economist, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. Editors on those publications are ruthless. They ripped apart my stories and stitched them back together to create an impossibly powerful and beautiful narrative. That’s how, as newbie reporter, I discovered the huge gap between how great a writer I thought I was, and how good it was possible to be. Those editors showed to me that writing was capable of being developed and refined well beyond the level of the average university graduate or professional. As my understanding of the craft deepened, I realised that while most people in the business world knew how to write, only an elite few could do so brilliantly. And those that did know how to write exceptionally had a distinct advantage over their peers and competitors. The tragedy was that those people who couldn’t write brilliantly mistakenly presumed that those who could must possess some raw natural ability they’d always lack. It’s true some people have a natural flair for writing, as others do for dancing. However, as I studied the techniques of those great editors I came to realise they were simply applying principles anybody could follow to enhance their writing ability. In my 20-year career as a professional journalist, I must have written and edited hundreds of thousands of articles—giving me ample opportunity to fine-tune my writing. Being in a high-pressure writing environment has given me a unique chance to study the art and craft of writing in meticulous detail. Finally, I have codified my discoveries and am ready to reveal what I’ve identified as the ‘secret sauce’ of great writing. This original framework is so powerful it will cause a seismic shift in your own writing ability. Professionals and businesses that understand the paradigm will quickly begin to stand out in the corporate universe. The secret sauce is made up of three vital ingredients that, when included in your writing, will begin to make your paragraphs shimmer, sentences shine and words sparkle. The sauce is so powerfully potent that you should burn the following three words into your brain and remind yourself of them whenever you’re writing anything: ·         Simplicity ·         Clarity ·         Elegance “If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do” - William Zinsser Slick Writing Sells But first... why should you bother to improve your writing? The reason is simple. You may not have noticed it yet, but poor writing is holding you back in your career and business. Just consider: ·  How many job interviews have you lost because your cover letter doesn’t stand out from the crowd? ·  How many promotions have you missed because your memos don’t sparkle like those of your slicker-writing colleagues? ·  How many potential customers haven’t you converted on your website because the writing there is impenetrable or simply too dull? ·  How many of your sales emails are regularly tossed into your prospects’ junk folder because they fail to move or captivate? The plain fact is that slick writing sells. It wins you promotions at work. It makes your business look better than others. Poor writing, on the other hand, makes you look shabby. Perhaps you consider yourself already to be a good enough writer. Even so, imagine what difference it could make if you could go from being an ordinary writer to becoming an extra-ordinary one? Shortly, I’m going to teach you how to do exactly that. I’m going to show you how to bring about a seismic shift in the quality and effectiveness of your writing.
 The Secret Sauce Now, have you ever read anything that’s made you go, “Wow, that’s just beautiful”? If so, you’ve encountered somebody who’s mastered the art of writing with flair. It’s a rare art. Ask yourself: what made that piece of writing so entrancing? Great writing has a few immediately recognizable characteristics you should take notice of. For one thing, it’s instantly comprehensible. Secondly, it’s captivating. And finally, it flows smoothly. Did the piece of writing you remembered have those characteristics? I’ll bet it did. Bad writing is the opposite. It’s dull, confusing and jarring to read. I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of reading something that baffled you, was clunky, or just so inspiring that you drifted away into sleep. If you ponder the matter even more deeply, you’ll discover something interesting. Whenever writing is effective, three qualities are always present. Yes—it’s those I mentioned, the secret sauce. Good writing always has an abundance of simplicity, clarity and elegance. e K Th ey To The Matrix That’s all very well, but how do you maximise the simplicity, clarity and elegance of your writing? It’s easy: you apply certain rules and principles to enhance each quality. There are principles for making your writing simpler, and there are rules for making it clearer and more elegant. I can’t reveal every single principle in each category here. There are too many, and the purpose of this book is really to introduce you to this powerful framework, which alone will help superpower your writing. The world’s best editors on magazines like The Economist and newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal instinctively know most of the principles within each category, though many tend to apply them unconsciously. Let me assure you that you’ll be able to take the principles you find in the next few pages and apply them successfully to your own writing. Trust me when I say they’ll give you a distinct advantage over your peers and competitors. Some rules will make a difference immediately. Now, you could take this simplicity-clarity-elegance framework and possibly work out many of the rules yourselves. But it will take a lot of time. In fact, it took me two decades to discover and map out the full suite of principles that induce powerful and graceful writing. I’ve done the hard work for you by decoding the matrix. And now I’m about to hand you the master key that gets you entry. Make no mistake: the framework I’m giving you is a game-changer for aspiring writers.  So, let’s get to it and begin exploring the magic formula of simplicity, clarity and elegance. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. - David OgilvySimplicity At school, we’re often taught that to write well we need to start using big, fancy words. The same is true of university, where we’re additionally encouraged to create lengthy, complex sentences to show our sophistication. Because this advice mostly came from tutors we respected, we’ve come to equate those recommendations with intelligence. So, if I implore you now to stick with small words and straightforward sentences, you may find yourself resisting my advice. You fear your writing will begin to sound less sophisticated. To become a better writer, you have to drop this belief—now. You need to understand that you display more sophistication when you choose to express yourself in the simplest way possible. Simple writing is also more pleasurable to read. When you appreciate that the true purpose of writing is to convey ideas to other people, you begin to realize that simplicity is one of the best tools around for communicating them effectively. As an editor for a number of top news organizations, I can tell you that I spent most of my time substituting reporters’ unnecessarily long words with shorter ones, while trying to turn complicated-sounding sentences into simpler ones. That is what a good editor always does, and you should start doing the same with your own writing. Here are three principles you can use immediately to enhance the simplicity of your writing: 1. Stick to short, familiar words Words with an official ring—such as “commence” or “exhibit”— substantially weaken your writing. They are jargon. Simplify to say, respectively, “start” and “show,” which are shorter and have more impact. Don’t say, “I will provide you with an update tomorrow,” when you can say. “I’ll update you tomorrow.” Also, don’t use longer words such as “investigate” if all you mean is “look”, or “utilise” when you mean “use.” Imagine a cover letter for a job application that ends: “I shall be pleased to make your acquaintance should you deem my background and credentials to be worthwhile to your company and its long-term ambitions.” Sounds pretentious, right? Be straightforward and honest: “I’d be happy to meet you for an interview.” 2. Strike out as many words as possible You’d be surprised at how many words can be deleted from a sentence without losing any of the intended meaning. So often we use an array of words around an idea that we are simply used to seeing, but which have no intrinsic value. “I am of the opinion that it is necessarily the case that my cat exhibits adorable qualities,” is a hideously pompous statement that also obscures the writer’s real meaning, which is, “My cat is really cute.” The journalist Harold Evans  famously invited readers of one of his works to consider which words appearing on an imaginary marketplace signpost could be deleted without harming comprehension. The words on the sign were: FRESH FISH SOLD HERE. He showed that all of the words could be deleted because people would expect the fish to be “fresh” and “sold”—so it doesn’t need saying—while the person reading the sign knows they are “here,” and the “fish” could probably be smelt anyway. 3. Un-complicate ideas to the furthest extent Always try to boil down a sentence to its simplest form for maximum comprehension. Keep going with it until you’re satisfied an idea can’t possibly be made any simpler. “The notion that a competitive workplace environment is commensurate with superior performance is, at best, dubious.” When you un-complicate that sentence, you get something that reads much simpler and is easier to understand: “A competitive workplace doesn’t necessarily lead to better performance.”     Try making this sentence as simple as possible using the principles I’ve outlined: “It is advisable to purchase stocks when their prices are depressed and to sell them at the top of the market” This is better: “Buy stocks low, sell them high.” And this one: “Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account” I still haven’t been able to figure that one out, but here’s the best I could do: ‘People aren’t necessarily born successful.”
“If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” - George OrwellClarity The second secret ingredient of great writing is clarity. How many of you have read something that leaves you scratching your head? I have. Too many times Before I became a journalist I used to think I wasn’t smart enough to understand what the writer was saying. I blamed myself. After I became an editor, I realised it’s never the reader’s fault for failing to understand something. It’s always the writer’s fault for failing to express themselves clearly enough. I have turned around the most seemingly complex sentences into something easily comprehensible— and yes, without ‘dumbing down’ the ideas. The truth is, almost anything can be expressed in a way other reasonably intelligent people can understand. If it takes a long time to grasp something you’ve just read, it’s usually because the writer hasn’t discovered, or taken the trouble to find, the best way of presenting it. As aspiring elite writers, our aim is to make all our sentences immediately comprehensible. Here are three things that stand in the way of clarity: laziness, ambiguity and poor punctuation 1. Sheer laziness Often we are simply too lazy to try and explain ourselves clearly. We leave quickly produced sentences as they are, even though they don’t express our thoughts that well. Worse, we sometimes haven’t taken the trouble to decide clearly what we want to say. We just put our writing out there hoping somebody more intelligent than us will figure out, or infer, what we mean. An elite writer finds such an attitude reprehensible. We are committed to making our writing—whether it’s a cover letter, report or marketing copy—as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Try getting your head around this sentence: “While a 4-out-of-5 chance of avoiding recession doesn't sound alarming, it is notable that this is the highest probability in the post-war period that didn't result in a subsequent recession outside of the global financial crisis” The idea is so curly that it’s almost impossible for a reader to get it first time. Even the very first few words of the sentence are tough to grasp: “While a 4-out-of-5 chance of avoiding recession...” You want to avoid this sort of complex sentence construction, and try instead to untangle ideas so they read straightforwardly. Ask yourself: what am I really trying to say? And then just say it plainly.   I still don’t quite understand what the writer is getting at, but the best I could do with the sentence was this: “Since the Second World War, Australia has always gone into recession whenever the probability of doing so was greater than 20%—except during the global financial crisis.” You have a go. 2. Ambiguity Ambiguity occurs when something you write could be read in more than one way. Much corporate writing is littered with ambiguity. As an elite writer, you must erase any trace of it from your writing. Look at these two sentences: “Trico Inc. bought Starfish Ltd. in 2003. Ever since then, the company has failed to report a profit.” Do you see the ambiguity? Which company has failed to report a profit? The way it’s written, it could be either. Now, try to get rid of the ambiguity. Here’s one way: “Trico Inc. bought Starfish Ltd. in 2003. Ever since then, the subsidiary has failed to report a profit.” Now it’s clear that Starfish is the one that has failed to report a profit since the takeover. Have a go at clearing up the ambiguity below—and to make it more difficult, do it without repeating either of the executives’ names: “The rivalry between John Smith and Peter Jones has intensified since his promotion to CEO.” Here’s mine: “John Smith’s promotion to CEO has intensified his rivalry with Peter Jones.” 3. Punctuation Sometimes we lose clarity simply because we use punctuation poorly. Eats, Shoots and Leaves is the title of a famous book about writing. It draws attention to the dramatic difference to meaning that misplacing a simple comma can make. Note the difference between these two sentences: “The panda eats shoots and leaves,” and, “The panda eats, shoots and leaves.” Or: “Did you drink, my friend?” and, “Did you drink my friend?”
“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration” - Ernest HemingwayElegance The most overlooked aspect of great writing is what I call elegance. In case you’ve never seen this concept being applied to writing before, let me explain. Elegance is that quality in writing that makes it beautiful. Here are two ways to make your writing more elegant: 1. Pace sentences You should start to develop a feel for when a sentence seems too long or short. You’ll know because your writing feels clunky when you read it back. Treat the whole piece of writing as a composition. Look out for whether it sounds too staccato, if a sentence goes on for too long because it contains too many ideas—if so, split them into different sentences—and whether you repeat the same structure too often to the point of dullness.   It takes time to develop that kind of sensitivity, so I encourage you to study writing that has this quality of elegance and just keep reading it until you get the idea. Also, notice writing that lacks this quality. Normally, it feels clunky. Keep making adjustments to your own writing until you can read it all in one go without it seeming ugly. This is one of those aspects of great writing that you have to develop an instinct for. As long as you’re aware of it as a concept, you will continue to apply it more effectively. Think of music, and notice how it doesn’t usually jump from one rhythm to another – and that if it does, it does so elegantly. It keeps a certain flow. Here’s part of Martin Luther King’s famous speech, a great example of cool sentence rhythm: “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” U.S. president Barack Obama’s state-of-the-union address uses varying rhythms to increase the poignancy of his message: “We should follow the example of a police officer named Brian Murphy. When a gunman opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Brian was the first to arrive, he didn’t consider his own safety. He fought back until help arrived, and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of the Americans worshiping inside – even as he lay bleeding from twelve bullet wounds. When asked how he did that, Brian said, ‘That's just the way we're made.’ That's just the way we're made. We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens. It's a word that doesn't just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we're made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.” 2. Create a narrative Whether you’re writing a sales email, marketing copy on a website, an essay or a news article, an elite writer makes sure the ideas flow forward gracefully. What that means is that rather than merely stating one point after another, you take care to create a narrative. This is what good writers mean when they talk about structure. Think of any piece of writing as a building made up of ideas that need to be structured elegantly. The key to getting this right is to know the ideas you want to express, and then decide the order in which they are best placed. Consider which of those ideas belong most closely together—for example, whether one point is an illustration of another, a development of a previous point, or else a totally unrelated point. Use the idea of elegance to guide this process until you’re happy the structure you’ve built is the most elegant one possible. If you do this thoroughly, you will feel your writing taking on a gracefulness you may never have realised was possible. Let’s say you’re preparing a cover letter. We know a good one has to include at least four things—relevant details about your background, what you want from the company (presumably, an interview), what you think you could offer, and a polite acknowledgment of the job offer. It would be inelegant if you offered the information up in that jumpy order. Instead, you’d want to consider which blocks of ideas sit best next to each other to create a flow.   An elegant cover letter would start with a polite acknowledgment of the job offer, give some relevant details about your own background, then go on to say what you could bring to the company, and round off by asking politely for an interview. e B Th est Writers Agree Don’t just take my word for it. Although I think my writing system is unique, and the best method I’ve come across for superpowering your prose quickly, some of the world’s greatest writers have already emphasized some of the points I’ve raised in their own way. Listen to George Orwell: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” “Never use a long word where a short one will do.” “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.” And Mark Twain: “Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.” Become An Elite Writer So what should you do with all this information? I suggest you go away and begin applying it straight away. There are two ways you can do this. First, whenever you’re reading something ask yourself how well the writer has incorporated the concepts of simplicity, clarity and elegance. Second, whenever you write something, apply each of the concepts yourself. Always ask: is this word, sentence or paragraph as simple, clear and elegant as it could be? Do just that, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the elite writer you aspire to be.