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Are We Losing Our Ability to Write Well?

Posted By Christine On July 8, 2010 @ 6:30 pm In Concise writing, Love of writing, Your Voice Inc. | 5 Comments

In the last couple of weeks the concept of good grammar has been showing up all around me.  The first incident came in the form of a colleague wanting to use more active verbs in one of his articles.  When I read the example he sent of a passive and active verb, it didn’t look right to me.  To verify my suspicions I went to my references and yes, indeed, his example of an active verb was incorrect.  It was as much a lesson for me as it was for him.

The second occasion was when I attended a tele-class entitled “Tightening Your Text Like a Pro” with Arielle Ford [1] and Linda Sivertsen [2] (it was fabulous).   What a great reminder of how many filler words we use (really, actually, that, etc.)  I took a look at some of my recent writing and realized I had fallen off the concise-writing wagon.  I went back to my exercise of cutting my word count in half whenever possible.

Then I read this article, “Many English Speakers Cannot Understand Basic Grammar”. [3] Yikes.  Here was another reminder that we have not mastered the basic elements of English grammar.

All this was a wake-up call for me to revisit some of my trusted resources.  A thorough reference guide with easily skim-able content is Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words [4] by Bruce Ross-Larson.  If you don’t have a copy, check it out!

For instance, when was the last time you looked at your writing and thought, “Do I have any overweight prepositions?” Or have you wondered, “Do I use premature pronouns?”

Overweight Prepositions:

…with reference to                         Substitute: of, on, for, about

…in relation to                                   Substitute: on, about

Premature Pronouns:

If he scores a goal, Mario will be named MVP     Change to: If Mario scores a goal, he will be named MVP

Digest a few sections of this book at a time otherwise you will question your choice to be a writer at all!  My advice is to always look at your word count and find areas to delete.  Set a goal of cutting at least 30% on your first edit.  You will be surprised at how many extra words you have that take away from the potency of your text.


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URL to article: http://www.yourvoiceinc.com/2010/07/are-we-losing-our-ability-to-write-well/

URLs in this post:

[1] Arielle Ford: http://www.yourvoiceinc.com http://www.everythingyoushouldknow.com/

[2] Linda Sivertsen: http://www.yourvoiceinc.comwww.WinningBookProposals.com/teleseminars

[3] “Many English Speakers Cannot Understand Basic Grammar”.: http://www.yourvoiceinc.comhhttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100706082156.htm ttp://

[4] Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words : http://www.amazon.com/Edit-Yourself-Manual-Everyone-Works/dp/0393313263/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278636812&sr=8-1

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