Five fantastic writing resources

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It’s a funny time this, isn’t it? It’s a sort of festive no-man’s land in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day and a chance to spend time with family and friends.

Speaking of Christmas, I’d like to give you a belated gift.

As my present to you, here’s a list of really useful writing resources. As writers, we’re always learning and these are some great places to start.

1. British Council Learn English website https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar

If you’d like to learn more about English grammar, try the interactive exercises on this fantastic website.

2. Plain English Campaign website http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

Visit the ‘Plain English tools’ section for handy writing guidance and the ‘gobbledygook generator’…

3. BBC News website https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

This may not sound like a writing tool, but it’s a great place to check the standard British spelling and formatting of words and phrases. If you’re not sure whether it’s ‘prime minister’, ‘prime-minister’ or ‘primeminister’, take a look at BBC News to see how they’re formatting it (the answer is ‘prime minister’).

4. GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/

This site is a great example of how to explain complicated, formal processes in simple language.

5. The book you got for Christmas

Reading is one of the best ways to improve as a writer. It also goes really well with a glass of mulled wine. Read writers you admire and you’ll pick up their tips along the way.

 

What are you up to in the days between Christmas and New Year? Let me know down in the comments…

 

Cut the jargon

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If you want to make your writing easy to read, start by cutting out any unnecessary long words or jargon. It’ll be clearer and sharper without them.

Here are a couple of tips to get you started:

1.)    Never use a longer word when a shorter one will do.

It can be tempting to throw in a few impressive words to add a sense of authority:

Councillor Jeremy Bucket will commence his mayoralty on 1 January, 2018. He would like to extend his gratitude to the electorate.

Reading this kind of thing is hard work because we don’t use these words in normal conversation. It comes across as unfriendly, exclusive and even a bit silly.

We can fix this by replacing the long words with short ones:

Councillor Jeremy Bucket will start his term as mayor on 1 January, 2018. He would like to thank everyone who voted.

 

2.)    Use definitions to explain specialist terms

Sometimes jargon is necessary. If you need to use a specialist word that your readers won’t be familiar with, add a definition to explain what it means. It’s also always a good idea to explain any acronyms:

At Wafflington Sustainable Extensions, we choose materials such as flyash concrete (a more eco-friendly form of concrete) and SIPs (structural insulating panels).

 

Ready to get jargon-busting? Come back on Thursday when we’ll be trying this strategy out in the Write for Real People Workshop…