zest your writing: tips to flavor bland writing

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Information about zest your writing: tips to flavor bland writing

Published on May 25, 2007

Author: ebasamoht

Source: slideshare.net

Description

improve readibility with quick-fix tips

zest your writing tips to flavor bland writing

lesson 1 cutting to the chase

remember. . . people crave action

Rank Title Genre Worldwide Box Office Titanic (1997) Romance/Drama $1,835,300,000 1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Action/Adventure $1,129,219,252 2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) Action/Adventure $1,060,332,628 3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) Adventure/Family $968,657,891 4 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Action/Adventure $922,379,000 5 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Action/Adventure $921,600,000 6 Jurassic Park (1993) Action/Adventure $919,700,000 7 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) Adventure/Family $892,194,397 8 Shrek 2 (2004) Adventure/Comedy $880,871,036 9 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Adventure/Family $866,300,000 10 Finding Nemo (2003) Adventure/Comedy $865,000,000 11 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Action/Adventure $860,700,000 12 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) Action/Adventure $848,462,555 13 Independence Day (1996) Action/Adventure $811,200,000 14 Spider-Man (2002) Action/Adventure $806,700,000 15 Star Wars (1977) Action/Adventure $797,900,000 16 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Adventure/Family $789,458,727 17 Spider-Man 2 (2004) Action/Adventure $783,577,893 18 The Lion King (1994) Family Animation $783,400,000 19 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Adventure/Drama $756,700,000 20 action movies own over half of the spots in the Top 20 All-time Grossing Movie List

to spice up bland writing, give readers action; avoid writing’s action killers. . .

action-killer #1: the wordy start

eradicate wordy starts: At this point in time Now In the neighborhood of About Had an effect upon Influenced Just Due to the fact that Because Say In order to To For the purpose of For It It is important that Must Until such time as While With the possible exception of Except It is my opinion that (Just say it)

action-killer #2: passive voice

passive voice: subject comes after verb verb subject The girl was kissed by the boy The research will be presented by William at the conference Unknown Actor Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis

passive voice: usually has “be”-style verb = “be” verb (be, is, are, verb was, were) subject The girl was kissed by the boy The research will be presented by William at the conference Unknown Actor Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis

A lesson will be taught by this slide by having every one of the sentences be written in passive voice. This passive- sentence style of writing is not preferred by most writers because of its naturally slower reading pace. Slower reading pace is a signal to the reader that the story is slowing down, that the actor isn’t the focus of the sentence, or that the actor is altogether unknown. A passively-written sentence could be portrayed as a breathe of air for a reader to take to gather thoughts and feelings. However, when passive voice is used too often, these once-natural breaths of air in a narrative quickly become yawns for the reader. This paragraph is an elongated attempt to visually show how readers’ minds are affected when passive voice is frequently used by a writer; just as this paragraph is visually un-stimulating and un-engaging for you, so also is a predominately passive-sentence style writing to a reader’s mind—boring and stale. There is a better way. . .

A lesson will be taught by this slide by having every one of the sentences be written in passive voice. This passive- sentence style of writing is not preferred by most writers because of its naturally slower reading pace. Slower reading pace is a signal to the reader that the story is slowing down, that the actor isn’t the focus of the sentence, or that the actor is altogether unknown. A passively-written sentence could be portrayed as a 14 “be” style verbs slow breathe of air for a reader to take to gather thoughts and feelings. However, when passive voice is used too often, these once-natural breaths of air in a narrative this passage to a crawl quickly become yawns for the reader. This paragraph is an elongated attempt to visually show how readers’ minds are affected when passive voice is frequently used by a writer; just as this paragraph is visually un-stimulating and un-engaging for you, so also is a predominately passive-sentence style writing to a reader’s mind—boring and stale. There is a better way. . .

be strong use active voice

active voice: subject comes before verb verb subject The boy kissed the girl William will present the research at the conference Scientists conducted experiments to test the hypothesis

action-killer #3: prepositional phrase-mania

Prepositions: a sentence’s word-linkers about by outside according to above down over because of across during since by way of after except through in addition to against for throughout in front of around from till in place of at in to in regard to before inside toward in spite of behind into under instead of below like until on account of beneath near up out of beside of upon besides off with but. . . between on without beyond out

too many prepositions shackle the reader: 2 1 “One of the goals in the policy 3 4 statement of the workers of our 5 6 company is that of the importance of 7 8 fairness in the treatment of employees” eight prepositions make this sentence a reader’s prison

2 1 “One of the goals in the policy 3 4 statement of the workers of our 5 6 company is that of the importance of 7 8 fairness in the treatment of employees” removing prepositions UNLOCKS the action for the reader “Our company policy promotes fair 1 treatment to all employees” prepositions: 8 to 1 words: 26 to 9 (65% fewer)

let’s apply the rules using this example

Yawner example #1 “The fact of the matter is that it is important for employees to be faced with such situations before they are actually put into a situation where they will be pressed into making an unethical decision.” --Reader-less Writer

drafting board. . . back to the

tip one: cut wordy beginnings cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

tip one: cut wordy beginnings: The fact of the matter is that it is MUST important for employees to be faced with such situations before they are actually put into a situation where they will be pressed into making an unethical decision. cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

tip two: be” circle “be” style verbs (we want active voice, active verbs) verbs) cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

tip three: underline prepositions more than 3 in a sentence = trouble cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

be” tip two: circle “be” style verbs, underline prepositions 1 Employees must be faced with such 2 situations before they are actually put 3 into a situation where they will be 4 pressed into making an unethical decision. *** too many “be” verbs, be” too many prepositions cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

what is this writer really trying to say? what type of situations? this be adds nothing 1 Employees must be faced with such 2 situations before they are actually put 3 into a situation where they will be 4 pressed into making an unethical what is decision. used twice-- situation pressing twice-- them? wordy cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

revision: before: The fact of the matter is that it is important for employees to be faced with such situations before they are actually put into a situation where they will be pressed into making an unethical decision. after: decision- Employees must face hypothetical ethical decision-making situations before they actually arise. word count before and after: 36 to 12 (72% fewer words) cutting to the chase lesson 1 zest your w r i t i n g

remember . . . wordy starts always slow readers down prepositional phrases often trip readers up

bringing it all together cutting to the chase 1 eradicate wordy starts 2 use active voice 3 limit prepositions

for more tips, email ebasamoht@hotmail.com references: Lanham, Richard. Revising Prose.

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