7 Advanced Writing Techniques

to Make Your Blog a Smashing Success
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.

•Short words. Short sentences. Short
paragraphs.

•No infini...
1. Write good ledes.
(Write like a journalist,
not a teenager in her diary.)

@edeckers
A "lede" is the opening paragraph ...
"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. Metaphors rule.
(Similes will do in a pinch.)

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

Life i...
Tom Waits
And the impending squint of first light
It lurked behind a weepin’ marquee in
downtown Putnam
It’d be pullin’ up any minut...
3. Use Powerful Words

@edeckers
Stephen Fry

@edeckers
Stephen Fry did a special one-on-one interview with Craig Ferguson, and he discussed the
appropriat...
Kill,
Torture

Fuck
@edeckers
4. Eliminate adjectives
and adverbs.
(Especially adverbs.)

@edeckers
5. Eliminate
all the
Needless Words
in your work
@edeckers
Use the BEST Words
Iceberg Theory

"For sale. Baby shoes.
Never used."
6. 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
Robert Lowth was a 17th century Latin scholar who decided that "do not split infinitives" was a rule, based on...
• Split infinitives boldly
• End sentences with prepositions
• Start sentences with And, But, Or

@edeckers
7. Write 3 – 5 good ledes.
String them together.

@edeckers
Hunter S. Thompson would often write 3 – 5 solid lede-worthy sentences, string them together, and beat the reader with the...
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert
when the drugs began to take hold.
I remember saying something ...
Bonus:
"Write Drunk. Edit Sober."

@edeckers
While Hemingway was known for his roaring drunkenness, he never actually wrote drunk. No matter what he did the night befo...
Any Questions?

@edeckers
Thank you!
Read me

ProBlogService.com
ErikDeckers.com

Reach me
@edeckers

erik@problogservice.com
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for MarketingProfs B2B Forum - October 2013
7 Advanced Writing Secrets for MarketingProfs B2B Forum - October 2013
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7 Advanced Writing Secrets for MarketingProfs B2B Forum - October 2013

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In response to all the "write good content" advice posing as content marketing "secrets," I created this presentation to show what good content actually looks like. Business writers can learn a lot from fiction writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway, actor Stephen Fry, and even singer-songwriter Tom Waits.

This is a PDF verison of the slide deck from my presentation at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in October 2013, along with some presenter notes.

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7 Advanced Writing Secrets for MarketingProfs B2B Forum - October 2013

  1. 1. 7 Advanced Writing Techniques to Make Your Blog a Smashing Success
  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. •Short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. •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 A "lede" is the opening paragraph in a newspaper article. It was originally spelled "lead" (and pronounced "leed"), but in order not to confuse it with the pieces of lead ("led") type, they started calling it the "lede" instead.
  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. Metaphors rule. (Similes will do in a pinch.) @edeckers
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. Tom Waits
  11. 11. 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" My favorite Tom Waits album is "Nighthawks at the Diner," and one of my favorite songs is "Putnam County." This particular part of the song is about the sunrise, and I love how he equates the mean light of the morning sun to an obnoxious taxi cab.
  12. 12. 3. Use Powerful Words @edeckers
  13. 13. Stephen Fry @edeckers Stephen Fry did a special one-on-one interview with Craig Ferguson, and he discussed the appropriateness and inappropriateness of using words like "kill," "torture," and "fuck." You can see it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntrSnMPr2X4
  14. 14. Kill, Torture Fuck @edeckers
  15. 15. 4. Eliminate adjectives and adverbs. (Especially adverbs.) @edeckers
  16. 16. 5. Eliminate all the Needless Words in your work @edeckers
  17. 17. Use the BEST Words
  18. 18. Iceberg Theory "For sale. Baby shoes. Never used."
  19. 19. 6. Your English Teacher Is Not a Writer @edeckers
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. Robert Lowth Robert Lowth was a 17th century Latin scholar who decided that "do not split infinitives" was a rule, based on the notion that in Latin, there are no two word infinitives — to run, to go, to eat. Since it was impossible to split them in Latin, he said we couldn't split them in English. It should never have been a rule. It was the same for prepositions at the end of a sentence: "you can't do it in Latin, you shouldn't do it in English." Except that should never have been a rule either. http://problogservice.com/2009/11/11/five-grammar-myths-exploded/
  22. 22. • Split infinitives boldly • End sentences with prepositions • Start sentences with And, But, Or @edeckers
  23. 23. 7. Write 3 – 5 good ledes. String them together. @edeckers
  24. 24. Hunter S. Thompson would often write 3 – 5 solid lede-worthy sentences, string them together, and beat the reader with them, BAP BAP BAP! He didn't do it all the time, and he would sometimes do it in the middle of a story. It was forceful and dramatic, and made the reader pay attention. That's what an opening lede should do, so imagine the power it had when it appeared elsewhere.
  25. 25. 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
  26. 26. Bonus: "Write Drunk. Edit Sober." @edeckers
  27. 27. While Hemingway was known for his roaring drunkenness, he never actually wrote drunk. No matter what he did the night before, he was up and writing by 6 am every day. He wrote until noon, then he edited his work, wrote letters, and THEN got drunk. He wanted us to write as if we had been drinking — alcohol depresses our filters and blocks, which keep us from saying silly and/or truthful things. He encouraged us to tell the truth as if we were drunk, but then to edit as if we were sober. Not to knock the edges off or to take out the honesty. No, that had to stay. Rather, fix it and make it better, but never remove the truth.
  28. 28. Any Questions? @edeckers
  29. 29. Thank you! Read me ProBlogService.com ErikDeckers.com Reach me @edeckers erik@problogservice.com

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