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Want to Improve Your Writing? Deflate your ego.

For any author, it is important to establish a sense of authority in their writing. They must prove to the reader that they are not only knowledgeable of their topic, but have a strong grasp of the English language. This, however, is not an excuse to be a poser.

Writing that is rich and ornate comes off as pretentious and hard to comprehend. It can put your audience on guard and your credibility in question. Instead, Strunk and White, in their ubiquitous book on writing, The Elements of Style, advise readers to practice plainness, simplicity, order, and sincerity.

It means using your thesaurus to aid in the flow of your prose, not to find ten-dollar words to make you look smarter. It means stop using adjectives and adverbs when a regular noun or verb will do. It means it’s okay to use figures of speech if it will help get your point across, but don’t push it. Finally, it means writing sentences that cover the subject without seeming like you love the sound of your own voice.

It is tempting to put on airs for your audience. However, going to great heights to impress others often leaves you open to fall flat on your face. It is far better to be yourself and use plain English. It will help you gain the respect of your reader, and keep your message intact.

Written by Ken Hammond on February 28, 2011

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Written by
Ken Hammond