Good readers make good writers and August is a prime reading month. As you head off to the beach chair, lakeside dock or the backyard hammock, grab a newspaper, magazine, book or e-reader and settle in. Here are three lessons about good writing to note as you read:
Research thoroughly and outline completely, before you write. Biographies and books about historical events highlight the value of thoroughly researching, exploring and mastering the topic. These tomes are often the culmination of years of voracious reading and copious note taking.
Most non-fiction writers use extensive outlines to help them track timelines and events, before they create the final manuscript. An extensive and detailed outline makes it easier for the writer to stay on-track. That makes the finished piece easier to read.
Present information logically, as you write. Newspapers and magazines are great examples of how to organize information. Articles and editorials lead with the key point and then add details to support it. This structure makes a story easy to follow and even easier to skim. The fairly short sentence and paragraph structure of most periodicals also provides for a more reader-friendly experience.
Vary the verbs and involve your reader. Romance novels and thrillers use active and dynamic verbs. They keep the characters, the plot and the action moving along heatedly. Weak verbs, especially the overused “to be” verb, bore the readers. That’s why writers avoid it. Also, thrillers focus on action, with few superfluous words or details. Imagine if more business writing focused just on the action and omitted the fluff.
To keep these lessons fresh, keep a folder of articles, editorials, feature stories or excerpts from books that you enjoyed reading. These can inspire you when writing an email, status report or proposal. They may even help with that upcoming holiday family newsletter
Lastly, if you’re a book reader, remember that you don’t receive gold stars for finishing books you don’t enjoy. Try reading the first 50 pages. If it bores you, move on. There’s no shortage of other books to start.