Effective writing requires writer’s adequate knowledge of language concern and techniques of writing messages.
Writers’ knowledge of language and techniques of writings enable them to write skillfully and logically.
Some techniques or guidelines for improving writing skills are discussed below:
1. Adapting Language to The Specific Readers
Adaptation means fitting the message to the specific reader. While writing, the writer must keep in mind that all the readers do not have the same level of understanding.
They do not all have same vocabulary, the same knowledge, or the same mentality.
Thus to communicate clearly the writer should know the person with whom he wishes to communicate.
The writer should form the message to fit that person’s mind by using words that the reader understands. Adapting requires visualizing the reader, that means imagining what the reader knows, feels, thinks and such.
2. Using Familiar Words
Using familiar words means using the words that most of us use in everyday conversation.
These words convey sharp and clear meanings in the mind. Complex and difficult words and the words that do not communicate precisely or quickly should be avoided.
For example, instead of using the more unfamiliar word ‘endeavour’, use ‘try’. Instead of using ‘terminate,’ use ‘end.’ In the same way, we should prefer the word ‘use’ to ‘utilize,’ ‘do’ to ‘perform,’ ‘begin’ to ‘initiate,’ ‘find out’ to ‘ascertain,’ ‘stop’ to ‘discontinue’ and ‘show’ to ‘demonstrate.’
However, using difficult words are not always bad. They can be used when they fit writer’s need and are understood.
3. Choosing Short Words
Short words generally communicate better than long words. Use of wordy sentences even these are understood give an impression of difficulty that hinders communication.
But it is not always true that all short words are easy and all long words are hard.
The suggestion is that in most situations the writer should concentrate on short words and use long words with caution.
It is suggested further that long words can be used when the writer think the readers know them.
4. Avoiding Overuse of Camouflaged Verbs
The writer should avoid using the camouflaged verb in writing. An action verb is changed to a camouflaged verb by changing it to a noun and then adding action verb.
Since camouflaged verbs are abstract nouns and they frequently require a passive form of sentence, they should be avoided for ensuring concreteness and active form of sentence in writing.
If we want to change the action verb ‘consider’ to a camouflaged verb we have to change the verb ‘consider’ to noun ‘consideration,’ then add verb ‘give, ’ and at last we get camouflaged verb ‘give consideration to.’
5. Selecting Words for Precise Meanings
Certainly, writing requires knowledge of the language. In fact, the greater our knowledge of the language, the greater we are likely to write.
Knowledge of language enables the writer to use words that carry the meaning that the writer wants to communicate.
Unfortunately, many of us treat language routinely. We use words without thinking about the meaning they convey. The result is vague writing.
Good writers require studying words carefully. They should learn their precise meanings, especially the shades of differences in the meanings of similar words.
‘Fewer’ and ‘less’ mean the same meaning to some people.
But careful writer selects ‘fewer’ to mean “a smaller number of items” and ‘less’ to mean “reduced value, degree or quantity.”
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6. Avoiding Gender Discriminating Words
Our language developed in a male dominated society. For reasons of fair play, the writer should avoid using gender discriminating or sexist words.
There are some ways for avoiding such sexist words.
- First, masculine pronouns such as he, his and him can be eliminated by rewording the sentence. For example;
the sexist sentence – ‘the typical college student eats his lunch at the student corner’ can be changed to the nonsexist sentence as like – ‘the typical college student eats lunch at the student corner.’
- Secondly, use of masculine pronouns can be eliminated by making the reference plural. The plural pronouns such as their, them and they refer to both sexes.
- Thirdly, masculine pronouns he, his or him can be substituted by a neutral expression such as ‘he or her,’ he/she, you, one and person.
7. Using Technical Words and Acronyms with Caution
Every field of knowledge has its own technical language. This language can be so complex that in some ease specialized dictionaries are compiled.
Individuals of a particular field need to learn its technical words and acronyms and later, use these terms freely in communicating with I other people belonging to that respective field.
But problems may arise when people of a particular field communicate with people outside their field by using their own technical terms.
Though these words are everyday words to them, these may be unfamiliar to the people outside that field.
So, the writers should use their respective technical terms and acronyms with caution and replace their technical words with plain words.
8. Select Words with the Right Strength and Vigor
Some words are strong and vigor. Some are weak and dull and some fall between these extremes. Good writers know these differences and they consider them carefully.
So the writer should use the words that carry the best-intended meanings.
The word ‘tycoon’ is stronger than ‘eminently successful businessperson’, ‘bear market’ is stronger than ‘generally decline market,’ ‘boom’ is stronger than ‘a period of business prosperity’ and like.
9. Using Concrete Language
Concrete words are those that form sharp and clear meaning in the mind.
The writer should prefer these concrete words in their writings. Concrete is opposite to abstract. Abstract words are vague.
Concrete words stand for things that the reader can see, feel, taste, or smell.
For example, write ‘a 48 percent loss’ instead of ‘a significant loss,’ ‘100 percent attendance record’ instead of ‘good attendance record.’
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10. Using Active Voice
The writer should prefer the active voice in making a sentence to the passive voice.
Active voice produces stronger and livelier writing. It emphasizes the action and it usually saves words. For example, write ‘He plays football’ instead of writing ‘Football is played by him.’
11. Avoiding Words that Stereotype by Race or Nationality
Words that label all members of a group by race or nationality are unfair. Members of any minority may vary widely in all characteristics.
Thus it is unfair to imply that Jews are miserly, that Italians are Mafia members, that I Hispanics are lazy, that African Americans can do only menial jobs and so on.
12. Avoiding Words that Stereotype by Age or Disabilities
Words that label people as old or young can produce negative reactions.
Similarly, disabled people are sensitive to words that describe their disabilities.
Therefore, it is suggested not to use words that discriminate against age or disabilities.
13. Emphasizing on Short Sentences
Writing simpler sentences largely depends on writing shorter sentences.
Research reveals that the more the words and relationships in a sentence, the greater is the possibility for misunderstanding. The reader can not hold too much information at a time.
They generally prefer short and readable sentence so that they can easily read the message and hold the information from it.
Thus it is recommended to write short and clear sentences by limiting sentence contents and economizing on words.
14. Maintaining Sentence Unity
Sentence unity means all parts of a sentence should concern one thought.
In other words, all the things put in a sentence should have a good reason for being together.
Therefore, the writer must ensure that all the information in a sentence belongs together.
Sentence unity can be maintained by:
(1) Eliminating excessive details,
(2) Combining only related thoughts and
(3) Avoiding illogical constructions.
15. Taking Care in Paragraph Design
Paragraphing is also important to clear writing.
Paragraphs show the reader where topics begin and end.
They also help in organizing information in the reader’s mind. There are some suggestions for designing paragraph.
- First, each separate topic should be discussed in a separate paragraph.
- Secondly, the length of the paragraph should be as short as possible. Short paragraphs’ attract the readers and communicate better.
- Thirdly, unnecessary details should be avoided in writing paragraphs.
- Fourthly, each paragraph should move to an additional step toward the goal.