Shakespeare, Hemingway, and You

We already know that the objective of all infowriting is to get work done, not to showcase the writer’s creativity. But I’ve found ten ways you can step into some big writing shoes and harness creativity in service to your primary infowriting goals.

Tips 1 – 5 (thanks to Hemingway and Brian Clark at Copyblogger)

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use short first paragraphs.
  3. Use vigorous English.
  4. Be positive, not negative. Basically, Clark says:
    You should say what something is rather than what it isn’t.
  5. For Hemingway’s most important writing tip, check the final paragraph in Clark’s Hemingway post.

Tips 6 – 8 (thanks to Paul Ferguson’s observation, in his 2004 STC International Conference presentation, that Technical Writing Ain’t Shakespeare)

  1. Every sentence has a plot.
    Think of procedures as mini-stories with a beginning, a middle, perhaps a complication or two, and an end — just like a classic drama. Do this, and your procedure will be more effective.
  2. Make the reader see.
    Write with your reader in the back of your mind and assume that the reader will have to rely on words alone. Don’t fall back on art.
  3. Pay attention to detail.
    Concrete details in Shakespearean sonnets make images come alive and engage our senses.

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