This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Clear And Simple Writing

Recently I read a piece that compared a good writer to a sculptor. A sculptor cuts away what’s useless to make her piece more expressive. So it should be with good writing. You need to cut away the useless stuff to make your words count.

In writing, as in all art, ‘less is more’.

Let’s look at 12 Simple Ways To Make Your Words Count

1. Use graphic and not abstract words. For example, don’t say ‘vehicle’ when you could say ‘car’ or ‘animal’ when you could say ‘tiger’.

2. Use one syllable words rather than two syllable words, two syllable words rather than three, etc. Example: ‘blood, sweat and tears’ and not ‘sacrifice, perspiration, sorrow’.

3. Use the active voice rather than the passive. For example, not ‘The cake was eaten by me’, but ‘I ate the cake’.

4. Lean on verbs and nouns, reduce adjectives and adverbs. Choose the strong graphic verbs. For example, ‘She wrestled with the problem’. A well-chosen verb makes an adverb unnecessary.

5. Make each word count. Edit ruthlessly. Don’t use two words where one is enough.

6. Keep sentences short. Brevity and clarity are key.


7. Concentrate on paragraph development. One paragraph, one idea. Clear writing comes from clear writing.

8. Relate the experience to your readers. For example, when writing for fishermen, then refer to nets, fish, wind, sea and sand.

9. Write, as Robert Gunning says, not to impress, but to express.

10. Be reader oriented. The reader’s interest tires quickly. Be personal.

11. Writing is hard work. You have no tone or gesture to help you. ‘Good sentences are not written, they are rewritten.’

12. Every language has its own music. Read your work aloud to see whether it has the correct feel.

This post is inspired by Robert Gunning’s book – The Technique of Clear Writing



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 ‘Write Tribe

 Prompts for this week:

Prompts for 18th November:
1. 5 hobbies and why you love them
2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time
3. Describe your relationship with your parents. Has it changed? For better or worse?
4. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” – Bernard M. Baruch. Use this quote in your post or as an inspiration for one.
5. Picture Prompt (copyright Living my Imperfect Life)