The Self Publishing Problem – Can You Really Write?
These days anyone can publish a book, but writing a good one is a different story.
With the digital publishing revolution underway, more and more people are realizing their dream and becoming published authors.
Unfortunately many types of media are haphazardly converted into Kindle books, by hopeful authors expecting to make sales.
Each month I receive manuscripts to review, yet so few are well written.
If you are planning on self publishing your book, take the time to brush up on your writing and editing skills. Applying the right resources is imperative for your book’s success.
Yes it is true
Many people have the ability to write and publish a Book on Amazon Kindle.
Almost everyone can write, writing well is another matter.
Apply These Concise Writing Rules to Write Well!
The secret to great non fiction or technical writing is precision. Unlike fiction writing where an author may use hundreds of words just to set the scene a good technical writer needs to be economical with words
Whether you are Writing for the web or writing a book for Kindle, applying concise writing styles makes it better.
The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. Concise writing does not always have the fewest words, but it always uses the strongest ones. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/572/01/
Adopt These Concise Writing Elements
- Write in the imperative
- Use headlines and bullets to allow skim reading.
- Present no more than one idea per paragraph.
- Choose your words – never use a bigger word instead of using a smaller word, never use more than one word when you can use a single word. For example instead of saying “In order to do this”, say “to do this”. Instead of saying “utilize” write “use”
Concise Writing Free Resources
If you have a serious interest in non fiction or technical writing then at one time or another you may have considered using a style guide. A quick look on Amazon reveals a mind boggling array of writing guides to chose from. There is huge variation in quality and some of the better guides are very expensive.
You may be pleased to learn that some of the best sources of writing guidance are absolutely free.
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. – Click here to download to your computer
- Marine Corps University (MCU) COMMUNICATIONS STYLE GUIDE – Click here to download to your computer
- Marine Corps University (MCU) Pocket Style Guide – Marine Corps University – Click here to access
- How to Write Clear, Concise, and Direct Sentences – Click here to download to your computer
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
William Strunk may not have invented concise writing but he was probably the first to attempt to standardize his approach. His guide has been in practical use for nearly a century and as a testament to his teachings the guide reads as though it were written yesterday.
The book itself practices what it preaches. Read the guide once to understand the concepts, read it a second time, note how the author implements them.
Marine Corps University COMMUNICATIONS STYLE GUIDE
When you think about it, clear communication should be your mission and nobody has a greater interest in clear communication than a military writer.
Military writers are trained to rigidly apply a few very simple techniques to ensure that a message is understood by every member of the audience whether they peel potatoes in the galley or command hundreds of troops.
The central theme in military writing is economy of words. Why say something in 10 words when you can say it in three? Saving time can save lives. For this reason the imperative ‘do this, do that’ writing style is encouraged for written orders and instructions.
The imperative is probably the most economical writing style of all.
Writing in the Imperative Takes Practice
To write in the imperative you have to imagine that you are telling somebody else what to do:
Here’s an example we all know well:
Retrieve beer from refrigerator
• Grasp refrigerator handle and pull.
• Reach into fridge
• Take coldest beer from the back of the fridge
• Close fridge door
• Observe markings on cap.
• If markings indicate twist:
– grasp bottle firmly with one hand and cap with other hand.
– twist cap counterclockwise.
• If markings do not indicate twist:
– obtain bottle opener from kitchen drawer…
A good technical writer writing in the imperative style uses about a third as many the words as a fiction writer might use writing in a conventional descriptive or narrative style.
By way of comparison here’s the same example written in the narrative style of a fiction writer.
Danny’s throat felt dry and parched but he could already sense the relief awaiting him. The fridge was old and bulky with huge globe emblem and chrome handle dripping with condensation. From time to time it would come to life hum away for a few minutes then with a clunk shut down, but that only meant that the contents would be seriously cold.
Danny grasped the large chrome handle with his right hand and pulled hard. The huge door opened revealing a bright pink 50’s interior. He felt the cold air rush over the tops of his feet where his pajamas and slippers failed to meet. His left hand snaked in around the milk, the butter, past the celery and the Cheeze whiz towards the back of the fridge. Sensing the heat from the bulb on the back of his hand he located an ice cold long-neck bottle at the very back. The chrome shelf rattled as he dragged the bottle out from its icy hiding place. The door made a reassuring clunk as he pushed it shut.
Danny wiped the water from the bottle using his pajama sleeve grasped the cap with one hand and gave the bottle a twist. Nothing happened. ‘Ok it’s an old fridge but surely all bottles are twist top these days’. He fumbled through the kitchen junk drawer in the half light until he found an opener. The cap came off with an audible sizzle and Danny downed the beer in one continuous glorious gulp.
The secret to good writing is to apply the right style to the work you are writing and never to mix styles.
A good technical writer uses very few well chosen words to convey exactly the right information; nothing more and nothing less; while a fiction writer uses words to add context and color to the story.
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