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The written word, spoken

As a product – or perhaps by-product – of the Cotswolds, I’m easily drawn back to the delights of Laurie Lee’s writing, and made a happy return to I Can’t Stay Long over the weekend.

Talking about his literate, “but by no means literary”, village upbringing in the 1920s, he writes:

“I am made uneasy by any form of writing which cannot readily be spoken aloud.”

If you want one, single, easy-to-understand rule about how to make anything you write better, read that sentence.

Again and again and again.

So much writing, especially for business, is excruciatingly awkward. The obvious blue-sky-thinking-speak is an easy example, but it’s the little things. Look how many estate agents (sorry to pick on you, but property descriptions contain some very clunky writing) begin sentences with the word ‘being’. When did you last hear someone speak something like this out loud:

“Being situated in the town centre we are primely positioned to cater to your needs.”

It doesn’t mean you should write as you talk to your children, or your friends on a night out, but read a few words out loud and see if you feel awkward.

Do you struggle with business (or any other) writing? Any tips, advice or experiences? Add a comment below.

Best wishes

Tom

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