Tips On Writing Well
When it comes to writing for the web, short and snappy is always the best way to go. However, every writer has his or her own “comfort zone”; finding yours – and using it to the best of your ability – is a great way to get into the groove of producing a lot of articles for Textbroker. Here, meaghan shares some of her best tips on finding that comfort zone.
When it comes to writing for the web, short and snappy is always the best way to go. However, every writer has his or her own “comfort zone”; finding yours – and using it to the best of your ability – is a great way to get into the groove of producing a lot of articles for Textbroker. Beyond that rather vague advice, though, there are a few concrete tidbits that I'd like to pass along to you. They have served me well during the time I've written for Textbroker; some were writing habits that I'd already possessed, and others were things that I learned over time. By sharing them with you, I hope that I can provide a bit of inspiration, make you aware of something that you otherwise weren't – or even inspire you to kick things up a notch.
The Thesaurus Is Your Friend
Words are awesome. You know that feeling when there's a word “on the tip of your tongue,” but it just won't come to mind? For example, the difference between “color” and “hue” – one will do when the other just won't. By expanding your vocabulary and using a thesaurus, you can become a more descriptive and interesting writer. Don't force words in – they need to flow naturally – but don't recycle the same handful of words, either. One final note: just because a word is listed as a synonym for another word, doesn't mean that it will make sense contextually. Swap it out, reread the sentence or paragraph, and make sure that it still flows well and won't confuse your audience.
Watch Your Grammar
I'm not a natural teacher, so I'm not even going to attempt to explain how to use grammar properly here. Suffice it to say that it's always come quite naturally to me; I tend to just “know” when something works. That said, there are a few tips I can give to you regarding grammar. First of all, do not – under any circumstances – rely on the grammar check function of any word processing program. The English language is so complex, and the rules behind proper grammar are so convoluted, that such programs truly can't hope to get it right. They can serve as a guide, but should never be taken as gospel.
So, if you can't rely on word processing software to double-check your grammar, what can you do? Proofreading is obviously smart – if it sounds “off,” chances are that it is. However, my rule of thumb is this: when in doubt, Google it. It will take you literally two seconds to do, and it can help you maintain a higher rating overall. If you can't find any concrete advice regarding your grammar conundrum, omit the phrase in question altogether. Honestly, simplicity is essential when writing for the web; backspace, rewrite and keep it clean and clear.
A good friend of mine starting writing for Textbroker not very long ago. He complained about going over the allotted number of words, and fretted to me about having to fall precisely within the word count given by the client. First of all, while you must meet the minimum number of required words, it is okay to go over. It's obviously not in your financial best interests to exceed the upper word count guide by an astronomical amount, but “going over” is permitted.
When you accept an assignment, eyeball the word count. Before typing a single word, get an idea in your head for what the “shape” of the article will be. You're going to want to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. How will all of those be broken down? I like to keep my paragraphs between 50 and 100 words. Therefore, a 500 word article will consist of five to ten paragraphs. Before writing it, map out a brief outline. Decide ahead of time how many paragraphs it will have – then “fill in” those paragraphs accordingly. Math is by no means my strong suit, but I've found that planning ahead helps me maintain a decent word count and increase my overall efficiency.
Keep It Simple!
Finally, avoid the temptation to over-complicate things. If the client obviously wants a breezy piece on kittens, don't try to dig up the etymology of the word “kitten” or attempt to write a complex piece about the evolution of the modern domestic short-hair cat. By biting off more than you can chew, you're selling yourself short and the pressure will wreak havoc on the quality of your work. Remember that you're not trying to produce the next “War and Peace” or “Moby Dick”; you just need to create a readable, clear and informative piece for the web. Simplicity is key when it comes to your writing process, too: map it out, write it up, scan it over and send it on its way. You'll find that nine times out of ten – or so – it will all go off without a hitch.