Learn to communicate in a style that is direct, and clear.
This course objective is a work in progress for me. Although I have learned to clean up my writing, I’ve still got work to do.
I found the in depth focus on sentence level writing helpful. I have learned the importance of tight, streamlined writing for the web. Do I always do it? No. Have I improved in this aspect? Yes.
Now I am more aware that every sentence has a job to do. Every sentence must be strong and serve a purpose, or it can be omitted. As Annie Dillard said in her Notes for Young Writers,
“Don’t use any extra words. A sentence is a machine; it has a job to do. An extra word in a sentence is like a sock in a machine.”
Now for my dilemma- I’ve been trying to unlearn years of bad writing habits under the time constraints of a six-week course. I have all this new information- but I don’t know where to begin. All the facts are there: proof read, revise, don’t use passive sentences, and cut out unnecessary words. These all make sense. I strive to do these things. But I still find a lot of my sentences are far from perfect. There may even been a “sock” or two in them.
Writing for the web style is so far from what I’m used to. I love the idea of short, concise sentences-but I also love the idea of poetic, flowing verse. Sometimes I like to read “wordy” sentences. I find them more interesting. Then I remind myself that this is web writing. This is different territory. Armed with this knowledge, I think it is important for me to try to find a balance between using concise, web friendly language, without coming across as too boring or robot like.
Let’s take a look at some sentences from my first project:
“The recipe I am going to share with you is my basic go –to quiche recipe I’ve developed through lots of trial and error over the years. I’m here to refresh your image of my dear old friend Quiche. If prepared correctly with ingredients you love, it is delicious.”
When I first wrote this, I thought it was a fine group of sentences. After reviewing it with the new skills I’ve learned, I think it needs a lot of work. I could have cut out about half of it to get the same point across.
In project 3, I made a conscious effort to keep the language more concise. Here is an example:
“Add the peaches to your blender. Add the simple syrup. Blend the peaches and simple syrup for about 30 seconds. Now you have peach puree. Turn off your blender.”
Now- back to my dilemma. The above sentence should be awesome, right? Because it’s so, well, “to the point”. It’s concise- there is no fluff. But I feel like it’s missing something.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that although I understand the necessity to cut out unnecessary words that don’t do the sentence any justice, I’m just left with the bare bones. The bare bones of a sentence that I feel like is missing something.
I’m hoping that this is something that will come with time. Like I said, this is a new kind of writing for me and I think it will take time for me to develop my own style.