Do you want your writing to be lean and powerful? Fight the flab with some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Never use two words when one will do

Write like Hemingway

Keep your writing nice and tight. Don’t waffle and keep to the point.

Many professionals recommend you read the stripped-down styles of Ernest Hemingway and James Ellroy.

Personally I find them too dry. But even if you agree with me, they’re worth reading to understand the effectiveness of their craft.

Stop thinking of yourself as a writer. You’re just as much an editor

Your copy is never finished when you’ve written right to the end. Now’s the time to put your editing hat on.

Write. Edit. Put it aside for as long as you can. Edit again.

At some stage in the editing process, I print the piece out and get away from my desk – into a conference room if at work, or somewhere else in the house if I’m working in my home office.

Make the experience as different as possible and really see your words from a different perspective.

Don’t over-punctuate

Superfluous Commer

Just between you and me, this is one of my major faults. Specifically, I often riddle my writing with superfluous commas.

Sure, they help break sentences up into understandable chunks. They can also reflect the rhythms of speech, but they can make reading my unedited output a bit like driving over cobbled streets.

Get to know your faults

I know I over-punctuate. So I know I need to eliminate some of this stuff when I edit. Polish it, some may say.

Do you know what to look out for when you get to the editing stage in your work?

Involve the reader

This is more than just talking to them directly – although saying ‘you’ is a great part of this idea. Try saying ‘Imagine yourself driving the…’, ‘Imagine the feeling of security with…’, ‘Imagine your child…’, or ‘Picture your friends’ faces when…’.

Imagine how you’d feel if you looked out of your window to see your new car gone. The dread as you realise you’re due on holiday tomorrow [and so on]

Establish why reading your copy should be the most important thing for the reader right now. Grab their attention by hitting the problem straightaway.

Demonstrate your product or service

Now you have the picture in their head, you can move them on to picturing how good it would be to have the solution.

As an ImmediVehicle member you’ll have a new car on your drive with 30 minutes, so you can get on with your life.

Base your first pitch on the notion of ‘where’s the pain?’. Identify it, but move on to how you or your client is going to remove the it.

How do you give your writing a six-pack? How do you produce powerful copy?

Thanks to ctoverdrive and bixentro for permission to use their images.