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Three words or phrases you can scrap from your writing now

Three words or phrases you can scrap from your writing now, by Emily Morgan.

My first subeditor taught me many things when it came to writing. His lessons were often tactless and brutal, but that’s a newsroom subbie for you.

The common theme in his lessons was essentially dumbing down my writing. The old adage in newsrooms is you’re writing for the average intelligence of an 11 year old. So keep it simple, to the point and informal without being too colloquial. You want to write the way you speak, so cut out the Queen’s English.

Here are my favourite three tips that have stuck with me, and which could drastically improve the appeal of your writing to media.

  1. Stop using the word ‘However’

This is verbose and unnecessarily formal. Instead of using the word however, always opt for ‘but’. Write the way you speak to your mates at a barbecue.

Eg: Instead of this:  However, when it came down to it he was not interested.

Go with this:  But he wasn’t interested.

  1. Per annum – get rid of it

I would hazard a guess that nobody says this in real life, outside of the office. Even if you’re a financial expert, change ‘per annum’ to ‘each year’ in your pitches to media. It makes it easier to read quickly, and that’s the aim of the game.

Eg: Instead of this: There are ten teams chosen to play per annum.

Go with this: Ten teams qualify to play each year.

  1. Drop ‘Whilst’

When you use the word ‘whilst’ in your writing, it makes your sentences long, cumbersome and disjointed. It also makes your statement seem weaker. Drop the whilst, and go out there with strength in your conviction.

Eg: Instead of this: Whilst the report found Vitamin C is an effective supplement, she ignored the evidence.

Go with this:  The report found Vitamin C is an effective supplement, but she ignored the evidence.

Bonus tip: Always write in the positive, to avoid confusing double negatives.

If I hadn’t just written in the positive, my sentence would have been this:

Never write in the negative because you won’t avoid double negatives. It’s clear from this example that the positive is far more straightforward and easier to read.

Happy writing!

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