Last summer, in preparation for writing my book, I read 15 or so books on writing and publishing. I then went back through the books and typed up the most important points from them into a single document (which came to 66 pages).
Out of all of this — and based also just on what I already knew about writing from classes (especially from two incredible English and composition teachers in high school) and just plain writing a lot — I pulled together what I take to be the top 9 core principles for effective writing.
Here they are:
- Omit needless words
- Use the active voice
- Be clear
- Be concrete and specific, permeating the work with details. For non-fiction, interviews are a helpful way to do this.
- Build your work around a key question
- Create tension
- Be yourself
- Write with nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs
- Give the reader room to play their role (for example, when you state an amazing fact, don’t then say “that’s really amazing.” Let readers do their own marveling)
If you have other core principles that you think should be included in this list, I’d love to hear them.