A roadmap for writing

‘Write Away’ by Elizabeth George You’ll often hear writers talk about the value (or lack thereof) of planning Some writers (like James Patterson) are dedicated planners who write extended plot outlines Others (like Lee Child) claim to fly by the seat of their pants and be consistently surprised by the twists and turns their stories take Of course there’s no right choice between the planner vs pantser approach to writing Each writer needs to develop their own...

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On being a word nerd. A word nerd, I be.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The story of be: A verb’s-eye view of the English language’ by David Crystal (2017, Oxford University Press) Until I discovered this book, I hadn’t given a great deal of thought to the humble word ‘be’ In writing training, I advise writers to avoid over-using ‘be’ My concern is that ‘be’ in its various forms weakens their writing Instead, I suggest they look for ways to introduce action into their work For example, I might...

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Being specific with modifiers

I’m often troubled by vague modifiers (things that describe something else within the sentence) Here’s an example, a caption in today’s Weekend Australian: Geraldine Hakewill stars in Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, a spin-off from the Phyrne Fisher series set in 1964 The problem here is that a naïve reader can’t understand whether the original Phyrne Fisher series was set in 1964 or whether Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries is set in 1964 The sentence doesn’t...

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Break at your own risk: Genre conventions and why we need them

My attention has been side-tracked recently by two real estate signs that break conventions Both left me wondering what the agency was trying to achieve Are they clever attention grabbers or misguided mistakes The Watch this Space sign featured outside a neighbour’s house for almost two weeks Each time I passed Watch this Space, I wondered whether it was a For Sale sign with a rather-too-clever play on words for Space Agency Or was it something else Perhaps the house was not yet on the market...

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Skills and experience rejected by an algorithm

Today I’m feeling the crushing weight of rejection And I’m reasonably confident that the rejection was delivered by an algorithm I recently decided that the time was right for me to register for a freelance job website A colleague had suggested that it would be a good way for me to smooth out the ebbs and flows of consulting Although I’ve resisted freelancers’ websites in the past, I decided that this was a good time for me to register I figure that, while I’m unlikely to pick up...

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Why I signed up to PlainLanguagePro

Like most people in business, I get a seemingly endless trail of messages from people offering to save me money, make me more money, improve my skills, create new networks, re-energise my life, sell me something I can’t live without, help me find happiness, help me work smarter, or help me find my inner core The messages sell books, workshops, seminars, think tanks, investment opportunities, revolutionary new approaches to marketing, foolproof ways to find new clients, and on and on and on...

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Give this lid some coffee!

Simple coffee promotion creates both success and environmental concerns I’ve got a little café that needs to grow It’s in the ‘burbs of Brisbane, and I need to persuade our near neighbours to buy their coffee from me rather than from someone else Letterbox dropping is the cheapest and most obvious promotion: letterboxing costs more in time and effort than in real money, and it can directly target the people I most need to reach But letterbox drops are not neutral: some are more...

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Going public about business difficulties

Small business is tough Keeping the doors open can be a challenge, and it’s one that I’ve been feeling acutely in recent weeks My tendency to frame issues through a communication lens leads me to see business difficulties in terms of the communication challenge presented When it comes to communicating business difficulties, here are some of the options: Present a ‘front’ of success, in the hope that the image of success will generate real success (this seems to be the approach that...

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Competitors and social media: Do you share or block?

I’m increasingly interested in the communication that occurs between competitors We live in an age of mass public communication, with most businesses doing everything they can to be heard loudly and frequently It’s common business practice to monitor competitors’ activities and keep track of their public communication But how does that apply in the context of social media – which could be seen as an odd combination of public communication conducted as intimate conversation between...

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