7 Advanced Writing Techniques
Sturgeon's Law:
95% of everything
is crap.
— Theodore Sturgeon

@edeckers
"Write good
content" is
stupid advice
The Basics
•Use active voice; passive voice is to
be avoided.

•No infinitives/gerunds (also called
"future continuous").

...
1. Write good ledes.
(Write like a journalist,
not a teenager in her diary.)

@edeckers
"He coulda been
a credenza."
— David Knowles, The Daily

@edeckers
These kill kittens!
• Webster's defines "mediocre" as. . .
• If you've been living under a rock. . .
• My friend, Steve, an...
2. Write 3 – 5 good ledes.
String them together.

@edeckers
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert
when the drugs began to take hold.
I remember saying something ...
3. Metaphors rule.
(Similes will do in a pinch.)

@edeckers
Metaphors are pens

Similies are like pencils
Men's words are bullets, that
their enemies take up and make
use of against them.
— George Savile, Maxims of State

Life i...
And the impending squint of first light
It lurked behind a weepin’ marquee in
downtown Putnam
It’d be pullin’ up any minut...
4. Use Simple
Language
@edeckers
“We will leverage end user learnings
on a going forward basis.”

“We'll use what you
learned from now on.”
@edeckers
“We have created a frictionless user
onboarding experience.”

“Signing up is easy.”
@edeckers
5. Eliminate adjectives
and adverbs.

@edeckers
6. Eliminate
all the
Needless Words
in your work
@edeckers
Use the BEST Words
•Don't describe verbs, use the best verb.
•Don't describe nouns, make us see/
feel/hear.

•Show, don't ...
7. Your English Teacher
Is Not a Writer

@edeckers
If proper usage gets
in the way, it may
have to go.
I can’t allow what we
learned in English
composition to
disrupt the
so...
Robert Lowth
• Split infinitives boldly
• End sentences with prepositions
• Start sentences with And, But, Or

@edeckers
Bonus:
"Write Drunk. Edit Sober."

@edeckers
Any Questions?

@edeckers
Thank you!
Read me

ProBlogService.com
ErikDeckers.com

Reach me
@edeckers

erik@problogservice.com
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013
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7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013

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Just a few weeks after I spoke at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, I was a speaker at Barcamp Nashville, the city's social media unconference. The session ended up being one of the most attended of the day.

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7 Advanced Writing Secrets for Barcamp Nashville 2013

  1. 1. 7 Advanced Writing Techniques
  2. 2. Sturgeon's Law: 95% of everything is crap. — Theodore Sturgeon @edeckers
  3. 3. "Write good content" is stupid advice
  4. 4. The Basics •Use active voice; passive voice is to be avoided. •No infinitives/gerunds (also called "future continuous"). •Subject & verb at beginning of the sentence. @edeckers
  5. 5. 1. Write good ledes. (Write like a journalist, not a teenager in her diary.) @edeckers
  6. 6. "He coulda been a credenza." — David Knowles, The Daily @edeckers
  7. 7. These kill kittens! • Webster's defines "mediocre" as. . . • If you've been living under a rock. . . • My friend, Steve, and I were at our favorite coffee shop, drinking soy chai lattes. . . • Take 2 parts "blah," and 3 parts "meh," and mix them up to create the worst ledes ever. @edeckers
  8. 8. 2. Write 3 – 5 good ledes. String them together. @edeckers
  9. 9. We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive . . ." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?" @edeckers — HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  10. 10. 3. Metaphors rule. (Similes will do in a pinch.) @edeckers
  11. 11. Metaphors are pens Similies are like pencils
  12. 12. Men's words are bullets, that their enemies take up and make use of against them. — George Savile, Maxims of State Life is like a box of chocolates. — Forrest Gump @edeckers
  13. 13. And the impending squint of first light It lurked behind a weepin’ marquee in downtown Putnam It’d be pullin’ up any minute now Just like a bastard amber Velveeta yellow cab on a rainy corner And be blowin’ its horn in every window in town — Tom Waits, Nighthawks at the Diner, "Putnam County"
  14. 14. 4. Use Simple Language @edeckers
  15. 15. “We will leverage end user learnings on a going forward basis.” “We'll use what you learned from now on.” @edeckers
  16. 16. “We have created a frictionless user onboarding experience.” “Signing up is easy.” @edeckers
  17. 17. 5. Eliminate adjectives and adverbs. @edeckers
  18. 18. 6. Eliminate all the Needless Words in your work @edeckers
  19. 19. Use the BEST Words •Don't describe verbs, use the best verb. •Don't describe nouns, make us see/ feel/hear. •Show, don't tell.
  20. 20. 7. Your English Teacher Is Not a Writer @edeckers
  21. 21. If proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. Elmore Leonard
  22. 22. Robert Lowth
  23. 23. • Split infinitives boldly • End sentences with prepositions • Start sentences with And, But, Or @edeckers
  24. 24. Bonus: "Write Drunk. Edit Sober." @edeckers
  25. 25. Any Questions? @edeckers
  26. 26. Thank you! Read me ProBlogService.com ErikDeckers.com Reach me @edeckers erik@problogservice.com
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