If you’re reading this you either read or write and are interested in how people use words. You might be a read a lot and write a little. You might read a little and write a lot.

It doesn’t matter what you write–you can use these tips to make your second draft cleaner, more persuasive, more entertaining writing.

Three ways to make your writing better are:

  1. Cut out unnecessary words.
  2. Talk to your audience instead of about them.
  3. Leave it for a day.

They sound easy. Right? And they are pretty easy. They just take a little time.

Cut out unnecessary words

We’re wordy people. When we talk we fill in the spaces we need for thinking with extra words. We add extra, fancier words to make ourselves seem smarter. All it does is bog down our text, making it take longer to read and harder to understand.

The Economist has a great article on words that add nothing. PlainLanguage.gov suggests you look out for prepositional phrases that include of, to, or on:

  • Replace “in order to” with “to”.
  • Replace “on a monthly basis” with “monthly”.
  • Replace “at this point in time” with “now”.

Next, look for these five words you can cut:

  • Just
  • Quite
  • Really
  • Perhaps
  • That

Remember Voltaire’s wisdom, “The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.”

Talk to your audience instead of about them

Have you noticed that this is exactly what I’m doing? Think about the things you enjoy reading – does the writer talk to you? Most likely. Think about things that are boring to read, hard to understand, and frustrating to write – are you thinking of legal documents, disclaimers, and highbrow articles? Probably.

This might not always work if you’re writing fiction. But if you write for business, write for the web, or write anything that a customer will read, try talking to them instead of about them.

Which do you like better?

Here’s what customers said they wanted in the Limitless 3000…

Here’s what you told us you wanted in the Limitless 3000…

Leave it your draft for a day

We’ve all heard this one. I know. And, it can be tough when you’re on a deadline. I get it. I have those days too. But when possible, let your draft go rest in a file or a drawer for a day or even an hour before you revise or post. You’ll have fresh eyes to see if it flows logically, if your message is clear, if there are any typos.

Three steps that take a bit of time but will make your writing stronger, more logical, concise and persuasive.

What steps do you take to revise your drafts?

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