I took a writing class while at Beeson Divinity School called “The Writing Minister,” which has proved to be enormously helpful in my writing career. I want to share five tips I learned from my teacher, author Denise George:
- Use strong verbs, not passive verbs (is, was, were, etc.). For example, instead of saying, “The ball was thrown by Dave to Brian,” say, “Dave threw the ball to Brian.”
- Use descriptive verbs and limit the adverbs. To pick up the example above, instead of saying, “Dave threw the ball at Brian very quickly,” say, “Dave hurled the ball at Brian!” (ouch!)
- Condense, condense, condense. If you can say what you want to say in fewer words, do it. Readers get tired of having to sort through a bunch of non-important filler words. Don’t ramble on and on and on and on and on…
- Be crystal clear from the outset…especially from the outset! The beginning of an article (or book) should do two things: (1) grab the reader’s attention and (2) set him/her on a specific course. When I read through an initial paragraph of something and I don’t know where the author is taking me, I put it down (or click a different link).
- Use consistent and appropriate punctuation. Its always, unclear when; an article is, trying to convey. it’s point and its to (or too?) confusing – and apostrophe’s are in the wrong’ place and punctuation doesn’t help the flow. Sometimes, I see British-style punctuation interspersed with American-style punctuation.
For more information about Denise George or if you would like to join her for a writing “Boot Camp,” visit her at www.beesondivinity.com/bootcampforchristianwriters