Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs


When I write like I talk, I tend to write long sentences. I can write a sentence that fills an entire paragraph sometimes. Although this might be how the words flow out of my mouth, one of the benefits of writing is that you have a chance to edit your work before the reader gets hold of it.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy was a fan of getting to the point without wasting words:

Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

Never write more than two pages on any subject.

This tip is less about editing (which we’ll get to next) and more about keeping things simple. As much as you can, get to your point quickly and use the most simple language you can.

As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. — Kurt Vonnegut

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