Why It is Critical to Strengthen Your Language

 

Words can communicate or distract. Too many words can cause a reader to stop reading and never pick up your book or article again. As writers we need to be sure we take time, before publication, to strengthen our words.

When you have a newly written draft—most likely a second or third draft—that’s the time to add some strength to your words. At this point your words may be imprecise or awkward. You probably have too many words. It’s here that you stop the creative writer process and read over your draft as any reader in your target market would read. At this point you look at your work with fresh eyes and I suggest even reading your work out loud.

When you strengthen your language you should have two goals: accuracy and clarity. You need to focus on exact meanings you want to convey, and you want to strip away unnecessary words. This will invigorate your writing for the reader. Because you wrote during a creative time, you probably have chunks of sentences and even paragraphs that need to go—cut them. Don’t try to re-write them as they are redundant and take energy away from your writing.

You also need to pay close attention to ambiguity. Your words may have far too many meanings, or there may be a better word to replace the one you have. Reading aloud will also help you hear “soft” words that don’t exactly convey what you are trying to tell your readers.

Some tips:

  • As you are reading out loud look especially for places where you stumble or get lost. Chances are this needs cutting.
  • Reading out loud also helps you find redundancy and multiple ways of stating the same thing. Pay attention and be ready to cut.
  • With your “reader” mindset, ask yourself, “Where am I losing focus or concentration?” Again, good places to cut or find stronger words.
  • Also look for places where you seem to be “beating around the bush.” Cut or add stronger words.
  • When you re-write, read it aloud again. Is the new word precise? Does it energize?

Weak writers often are guilty of weak words. Readers give up on them and they don’t see any fruit from their writing. Choose to use strong words and use every word wisely.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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