Often in my editing work and just browsing online for research purposes, I read content that has the makings of being exceptional.
It’s a brilliant angle.
It’s an interesting opinion.
It’s got purpose and direction built into its structure.
It’s true to the writer’s voice.
In many ways, it’s a strong piece, and yet it doesn’t do the job it was meant to do. The ingredients are there, but the technique leaves it flat.
It’s what makes the difference between a business coach with personality and one who struggles to sound like themselves. Or a healthy eating writer who does things her way and one who’s always looking at what other people are doing.
What separates the great writers from those who fail to make an impact?
Getting to the point!
Here’s what this looks like in writing terms.
Hedging your bets
If you want to do everything in your power to diminish the impact of your words, you can do nothing better than use the word ‘quite’ or similar. An example that makes me wild as the wind is saying something is ‘quite unique’. Unique is all or nothing. Likewise, you can’t be ‘a little bit in awe’ of someone. What kind of backward compliment is that? Is it awe or is it something else? Because if it’s really awe, you’ve better be incredibly bloody star-struck in my book.
What makes more impact? Calling it like it is. Saying it straight. Being bold.
How wonderful to state you’re in awe.
How endearing it is to find someone unique.
They will love you for that.
Overly stating the case
You know what smacks of insincerity? Telling someone you ‘really, really, really love their work’. How about a sprinkling of desperation when it comes to selling your stuff? Maybe go for ‘I’m very booked-up right now, so I only have 3 spaces left’.
Hyperbole, exaggeration, whatever you like to call it, is not sexy. Funnily enough, the words that you should almost never use to emphasise a point are the words whose job it is to add emphasis.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
Which is stronger?
‘The figure was very blurry in the mist.’
‘The figure was obscure in the mist.’
Which is bolder?
‘I’m incredibly honoured to have you on the show.’
‘I’m honoured to have you on the show.’
Is obscure more impactful? Does honour not speak for itself? Same goes for delight, focus, beautiful, wild, healthy, thoughtful.
You can afford to drop the ‘super’, the ‘so’, the ‘incredibly’. Definitely drop the ‘really’. And almost never use ‘very’.
Trust your words.
Let them do the talking.