Reverse-engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what makes it good? If it’s awful, why?
Prose is a window onto the world. Let your readers see what you are seeing by using visual, concrete language.
Don’t go meta. Minimize concepts about concepts, like “approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, issue, level, model, perspective, process, range, role, strategy, tendency,” and “variable.”
Let verbs be verbs. “Appear,” not “make an appearance.”
Beware of the Curse of Knowledge: when you know something, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Minimize acronyms & technical terms. Use “for example” liberally. Show a draft around, & prepare to learn that what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to anyone else.
Omit needless words (Will Strunk was right about this).
Avoid clichés like the plague (thanks, William Safire).
Old information at the beginning of the sentence, new information at the end.
Save the heaviest for last: a complex phrase should go at the end of the sentence.
Prose must cohere: readers must know how each sentence is related to the preceding one. If it’s not obvious, use “that is, for example, in general, on the other hand, nevertheless, as a result, because, nonetheless,” or “despite.”
Revise several times with the single goal of improving the prose.
Read it aloud.
Find the best word, which is not always the fanciest word. Consult a dictionary with usage notes, and a thesaurus.
Carla ordered these cheap Bic mechanical pencils. I tried one out and I actually like it a lot. The lead diameter is 0.9 mm and it has a number 2 lead inside. It also contains one extra lead in the barrel. A 24-pack sells for about $.25 a pencil. They are supposed to be disposable, […]
Know Yourself is a set of 60 cards to prompt you to examine your beliefs. Example card: “List five things that are important to you in your life. How much of your time do you give to each of these?” The back of each card offers advice to make sure you answer the questions in […]
Promoting products is almost nothing like it was back in the Mad Men days. In fact, the digital landscape has changed the ad game so much that it barely even resembles early Grey’s Anatomy days anymore. Marketing a product digitally isn’t about the right ad slogan or color scheme. It’s about crafting the narrative around […]
Every once in a while, we see a new product come along that’s so versatile and elegantly simple that it’s strange no one’s ever gone there before. Portable lights themselves aren’t new, but there’s something about the MOGICS Coconut Light that’s so seamlessly well-designed and adaptable that it feels startlingly original. The Coconut is basically […]
With the U.S. cautiously reopening, it’s probably time to take stock of where you’re at. After spending all these weeks in the house, you’ve likely already assembled a little list of items you either realized you were missing or need to replace. And those kinds of revelations probably apply to nearly every room. We got […]