Easy Steps for Sharper Writing

Recently, I was asked to edit some abstracts for a large conference. A fun project, and also educational in a way I didn’t expect. It alerted me to some common writing problems and the easy steps that any writer can take to fix them.

1. Overdoing the present participle. What is a present participle? Think “ing” verbs: “Our company is making the most unique product in the world” or “Electric cars are going to become more popular as gas prices increase.” Those sentences sound much more compelling in the simple present and future: “Our company makes the most unique product in the world” or “Electric cars will become more popular as gas prices increase.”

2. Overdoing the adjectives. Consider how many products in the world can make the claim of uniqueness and consider how very little the word “unique” (or “state-of-the-art”) actually explains. Far more striking is a sentence like “Our product reduces CO2 emissions by 50% year after year, more than any other product in the marketplace.”

3. Overdoing the repetition: “If you are worried about the security of your home, contact our experts to learn about the latest in home security products to increase your home’s security.” Repetition may be necessary to clarify information or to increase the SEO of a webpage; but circular sentences like the example waste space and are annoying to read. If the entire phrase “to increase your home’s security” were dropped, the meaning would actually be clearer and the sentence would be strengthened (at least a little).

Those three steps (avoiding the present participle, cutting back on adjectives and rewriting circular sentences) are guaranteed to strengthen and sharpen your writing. At TWP Marketing and Technical Communications, our goal is to make sure that our writing–and your content–means business.

Add Wow to Your Marketing Message, Part 2: Advice on Adjectives

Does your company offer state-of-the-art products, best-in-class service in a proactive environment focused on delivering cost-effective, timely projects in a collaborative environment?

Join the group.

Millions of companies turn themselves into clones by relying on well-worn adjectives in their marketing copy instead of explaining what they do and how they do it. What makes a product state-of-the-art: what benchmarks has it met, what awards has it won and what techniques does it use? What makes service best in class: what do customers say? Are statistics available to prove cost-effectiveness and timeliness? Will company biographies, success stories and general tone testify to the collaborative environment?

No one ever writes marketing copy to brag about poorly built products and lousy customer service delivered weeks late in complete chaos. If they did, the opening statement of this blog might serve as a differentiator. It doesn’t.

When you search out strings of vague adjectives in your marketing copy, you can begin to truly differentiate your company by substituting details on when, where, how and why you do what you do. I’ll talk about that more in Part 3.

For marketing copy and technical writing that help your company to stand out from the group, contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.