Simply Friday

Business & Marketing Strategy

The adverb is not your friend

That's a quote from Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft." He goes onto say:

"I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

I agree, particularly if you're writing for the web.

Stop it!

Every client I work with goes through a process of un-learning what they were taught at school: alliteration added for the sake of it, polysyllabic embellishment, using ten lovingly selected words when just three would do.

Less is more.

David Ogilvy on "How to Write"

I'll leave you with this memo that David Ogilvy sent to the entire agency in 1982, it is great advice:

"The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

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