Ten Tips to Turn Your Writing into Clear Communication 2/21/2020

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by Carmen Peone

I’ve come to realize writing is nothing more than clear communication whether the piece is fiction and non-fiction. While one may offer a form of entertainment, the other explains or persuades. However, to be effective both types of writing must effectively connect reader to story 

My first tip is to think reader first. Mentors like Jerry Jenkins, editors with Reader’s Digest, and other newspaper editors suggest using plain words that the majority of society would know their meaning. Are the words familiar and rich? Or do the readers stumble over them because they are flamboyant?  

Secondly, It’s fun to create descriptive scenes in fiction. Here’s a fun exercise. Pick any page of your work-in-progress and choose two colors of highlighters. Now, go on a hunt for picture nouns and action verbs. For example, did you use house or shack? How about hit or slap?  

Thirdly, learn to master simple and declarative sentences. Why use twenty-three words when two will work? Jesus’s entire ministry was summed up in two words: “Follow me.” Vary word length of sentences. Jolt the reader’s mind with two or one-word sentences now and again, especially to add tension.  

Two more valuable tips include: keep paragraphs short. Psychologically, readers want more white space on the page. Too many words can be overwhelming, especially in the age of tweets and texts. In addition, remember dialog is action and moves the story forward. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of discussion between characters. It tends to highlight personalities 

A sixth tip is to use an active instead of passive voice? Strong verbs and specific nouns draw readers into the action. For example, which would you rather read: Joan angrily drove to work or Joan stomped on the brakes when the light turned red, slamming her fist against the steering wheel, and shouted, “Not again! He’s gonna fire me.” 

Speaking of dialog, writing like you talk is the seventh tip. Don’t use less than authentic language. If you would never say something, don’t write it. Also avoid shop talk. Not everyone understands it. Don’t try to impress the reader by making them sludge through jargon. Be basic and clear as we don’t all speak the same language. Again, use familiar words so your readers don’t trip over the page. No one wants skinned knees.  

My eighth tip is to think and write clearly. Our job as writers is to clarify so readers don’t have to. If additional research is needed, by all means, do more. Make a call. Find someone to help authenticate your work 

The ninth tip is to revise with time. Let days or months pass by before picking up your article, short story, or novel and giving it a second and third go. Fresh eyes are clear eyes. 

Finally, don’t!, and I mean, don’t! overuse any single point of punctuation!!!!! Punctuation is the season on a dish, not the main course.  

Happy writing!

About the Author:

Carmen PeoneCarmen Peone has lived in Northeast Washington and on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation since 1988. She had worked with a Tribal Elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes Language and various cultural traditions. She owns and trains her horses and competes in local Extreme Challenge and Mountain Trail competitions. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. With the love of history and western woman lifestyle, she brings stories of hope, family, relationships, and faith to her novels.

These books were a labor of love, especially the second edition of the True to Heart Trilogy. Thank you to my cover model, Shayna Palmanteer of the Colville Confederated Tribes, for your willingness to be a part of this adventure. Visit my website for information on the workbooks that go along with my young adult books at https://carmenpeone.com/books/.

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