Tips on Writing for Non-professional Writers
Udemy.com has a number of free online courses available. I recently completed Secret Sauce of Great Writing. Out of the dozen or more online lectures I’ve taken in the last month, I wanted to review this one because I felt it was worthwhile.
The lecturer very clearly explained the basics of great writing; or as he called it several times, “slick writing”. The three basic principles are simplicity, clarity, and elegance.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is mostly about using short words as opposed to longer words. Avoid jargon. Use fewer words.
The second tip for great or slick writing is clarity. The first reason people are often unclear is laziness. Go through as many drafts as necessary to make sure there is only one meaning per sentence. If the meaning is unclear, or the reader has to think about it too long, then rewrite. Ambiguity is not a writer’s friend. Punctuation is that last part of clarity discussed. A lot of native English speakers feel they’ve learned all they need to about punctuation in grammar school. Indeed, we learned the basics. Sometimes we also forget.
The last concept taught by this trained journalist is elegance. I’m not sure I’ll do this subject justice, as it seemed a difficult concept. He used examples of Martin Luther King and Barrack Obama to illustrate the idea of rhythm. Another idea expressed by Shani Raja was structure. As writers, we want a structure. To me, that means an outline. A writer who is scatter shot, may lose their reader before they get to the point of the article or story.
Overall, I got a lot from the lecture and recommend it. There were a couple of distractions. The lecturer tended to sway from side to side. Movement while speaking in public is natural. I use my hands to help “punctuate” a point I’m trying to make. I think he might have been better off using a lectern. The second minor annoyance was looking down at his notes quite a bit. A lectern, or a video screen beside the camera with his notes would have helped him to look at the camera more.