Oooh, now we’ve raised expectations, haven’t we? That brings us to the first lesson: a good text starts out fiery and makes you long for more.
In this post, we’ll give you tools to improve your writing style and sharpen your judgment. After reading this post, you will not only be able to write good texts but also better understand where your writing style still has potential. Let’s go!
1. The beginning want to shine
Shine bright light a diamond! This is how the famous philosopher Beyoncé formulated this lesson. The beginning of a text should and must be particularly brilliant. It consists of two elements: The headline and the introduction.
The rule here is: Catch me! I am the reader’s attention, hard to win, easy to lose. To catch me, the headline must entice me and the introduction must convince me.
And how do you do that? By writing figuratively, preferably enriched with wordplay and lightness. Write the way you speak. Formulate simple sentences, be clear and concise and avoid unnecessary convolutions. Let’s look at an example in which we revised a text on behalf of a client.
Alarm over IP for the connection of security and alarm reporting systems.
With Alarm over IP (AoIP), we enable security service providers to cost-effectively connect existing customer alarm reporting systems to the respective control centers and services. Leading companies in the industry have been relying on snafu's Alarm over IP solutions since 2005. To date, we have already reliably connected well over 60,000 customers nationwide to the relevant control centers.
Alarm-over-IP: Code alert!
When your sirens are blaring, our warning lights are flashing. Alarm! We connect over 60,000 customers from Siemens to Bosch to the responsible control centers via Alarm-over-IP. But wait a minute. What is that anyway? In a nutshell: Alarm-over-IP (AoIP) enables the cost-effective and secure connection of your alarm system to the emergency call and service control center NSL.
2. No chance for long words
Federal Training Assistance Act. Doesn’t that word look awful? Or how about a financial services company? Ugh. Long words should have their teeth (and letters) pulled out, where possible.
Why? They are hard to digest and make life unnecessarily complicated. Those who litter their pages with such monstrous words run the risk of alienating their readers. Let’s not do that – and use nice, short words.
Quality of well-being → Mood
Motivational structures → Motive
Weather conditions → Weather
Problem statement→ Problem
Furnishing objects→ Furniture
Quite simple, isn’t it?
3. Brevity is the spice of life.
It sounds trite, but it hits the nail on the head: Write short sentences.
For optimal comprehensibility, the German Press Agency dpa recommends nine words per sentence. That’s pretty short. If we turn a blind eyethe upper limit is around 15 words. There may be exceptions, but only if the sentence expresses a coherent thought and the length does not harm digestibility.
Long sentences slow down the pace of the narrative. If you want to use this as an intentional stylistic element – go ahead. But too many long sentences at a stretch inevitably lead to snoring fits. They demand concentration and promote fatigue. So let’s leave that too– and keep it short.
Write in a way that everyone understands.
People who know a lot about a subject like to throw technical terms at their readers. This may be due to the desire to appear clever – or due to tunnel vision. Because you know the words, you think others know them too. That may work in an IT forum but on a website? Nopes.
We want to write in such a way that even laypeople can understand the message. The art is to explain complicated things in an understandable way. You break down the complex to such an extent that well-structured and pictorial language can make it understandable.
Cost-based pricing is a pricing method in which the costs of creating a product or service are taken as a basis and added up with a profit-generating margin.
Cost-based pricing is very simple: take the production costs of a product, add a profit-generating margin and voila - you have a price.
4. Let the verbs be verbs
Creation, revision, consignment, bleeding. Endings such as -tion, -ment or -ing are warning signs. Has someone grabbed a verb and forced it into a noun uniform?
Verbs breathe life into texts. They dance, fly, speak, whirl. Anyone who has squeezed them into nouns had better free them again quickly. And anyway: a text can hardly have too many suitable, pictorial verbs.
The fields of activity of the apprenticeship include plastering walls, decorating ornaments and restoring historical facades.
In the apprenticeship, you plaster walls, decorate them with ornaments, and restore historical facades.
5. Write pictures & paint texts
Attention! The next rule of thumb is: show instead of tell.
Telling sounds like this: “Although it was a beautiful day, Mr. Smith made an angry impression.” And showing: “The sky was shining in joyful blue. A few foolhardy sparrows were performing wild stunts in the air, while Mr. Smith stared at the flower meadow with clenched fists and an angry expression.”
Figurative language is important because it pays attention to the peculiarities of our mind. We remember in images, think in images, desire in images – so we should write in images too. At least we should if we want to be read.
Figurative language is found, for example, in idioms (boiling with rage), in verbs (the flames are dancing), and in the unexpected combination of words. I can try hard to remember. But I can also poke around in my memory.
6. The sexiest adjectives
There is nothing wrong with adjectives, but they are never preferable to thorough brainstorming. In particular, one should not rely on the superlative. The coolest, best, most beautiful, highest quickly comes across as implausible. This rarely improves the attractiveness of what is being described.
An IT company writes: "Security at the highest level."
Better: "Secure as a castle.“
And: "Best IT monitoring through 24-hour surveillance..“
Better: "Only Santa Claus sees more..“
7. Write for a friend
If your writing suffers from acute stiffness, here’s a simple trick. Write the text as if you were writing it for a friend. Or for your mum. Then you wouldn’t start with:
“We promote innovative motivational improvement measures for employees to bring out personal strengths, identify weaknesses and make the corporate culture more human.”