The art of writing with clarity
The clarity of a paragraph is very important
Email Article  Print Article Alfredo Ascanio (askain)    
In this article I will summarize the tips recommended by Walter B. Pitkin (Professor of journalism at Columbia University), for over fifty years in relation to the art of writing clearly.

To be clear is your first duty, no matter what your purpose or subject.

To be clear, you must know precisely what you wish to say. Then you must understand the meaning of each word you use, as well as the grammar and rhetoric of your sentences and paragraphs.

The first rule is to use simple words in short sentences, as much as possible. But how far is “possible”? Just as far as your thoughts can thus be expressed to the people you address.

Therefore begin by mastering the brief, direct, compact, emphatic method of writing. Bear in mind always the following principles:

1.Say one and only one thing in each sentence.

2.When you must qualify something you have said in one sentence, do so in the very next sentence. Avoid tagging the qualification onto the end of the first sentence.

3.In each sentence, say the most important thing first.

4.Put the subject and its modifiers first. Put the verb and its modifiers next. Put the object and its modifiers last. Vary this order only when you thereby attain some special important effect.

5.Make each sentence as short as possible, at least until you have mastered this simple form of writing. Thereafter you may lengthen your sentences somewhat with more freedom of style.

6.One way of keeping sentences short is to avoid passive verbs. Another way is to use single words, which mean essentially the same as phrases you have been tempted to use.

When you start as a newspaper reporter, you learn to block in the larger frame of each news story by following Kipling’s jingle:

“I keep six honest serving men (They taught me all I knew): Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.”

Can you answer these six key questions about your subject matter? If so, you have got your facts in hand.

In the headlines tell the whole story in forty words. But this rule applies only to sentences of eight or more words. Why? Simply because the normal reader can take in at a single glance seven-word sentences.

Remember: the newspaper reader skims these headlines and decides whether the subject interests him.

In the opening paragraph or two, tell the most important facts, using not more tan 150 words. Because, if a little interested, reader reads this paragraph.

In the next 300 or 350 words relate the next most important facts.

In the last 350 or 400 words of the column compliment the latest information.

2010/02/17 오전 10:25
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