Monday, January 5, 2015

This One Cool Trick

How many links have you clicked on that promised a new body or a million dollars by following one cool trick? Of course, you wouldn’t click on those. Nobody does that. Nothing worth having could ever be the result of following one cool truck, right? Strong, marketable writing is no different. There are no easy tricks to make your writing jump off the page. If there were, we’d all be lining up with the next American novel.

But in fact, there is one cool trick most writers could use to make their text shine: starting sentences with strong nouns and verbs. In my years as an editor, the failure to employ this one trick – which really isn’t a trick at all – is one of the most common mistakes emerging writers make. It is very common for writers to want to pack sentences with thoughts and ideas, dazzling the reader with command of the language and a lofty narrative arc.

In fact, the best writers make sure that their best words are the nouns and verbs that start their sentences. If your writing seems to not be as crisp as you’d like it, or if some of your sentences seem convoluted, it might be time to focus on this one simple trick. Avoid the $20 adjectives and abandon the similes. Make your focused nouns and your strong action verbs the star of the show and watch what happens to your manuscript.

In the strong, lean text that sells, every single word has meaning. This is what professional editors are for: to get rid of the fat and tighten up a manuscript. But if you’re looking to make the most progress as a writer with the least amount of work, start by committing to strong nouns and verbs. You might be surprised how this one simple trick and transform your text.