Writer’s Desk: Skip the Complexity Trap

Some of the best writing tips are the easy ones.

Derek Thompson, who hosts the podcast Plain English, has a few simple rules drawn from practicing journalism on a regular basis:

  • Simple is smart: “Smart people respect simple language not because simple words are easy, but because expressing interesting ideas in small words takes a lot of work.”
  • Be interesting: “If you have nothing new to add to a topic in reporting or sources or interpretation or framing, move on.”
  • Write musically: “…think about repetition and variety. Crescendos and rests. Pace and punctuation. Read your work out loud, and feel the rhythm of the words in your voice.”
  • Avoid skin that is too thick or thin: “…stay away from the extremes of hypersensitivity-to-feedback and obliviousness-to-feedback. Seek out wise criticism. Reserve time in your week for the regret that comes with getting things wrong.”

Again, many of these thoughts may be self-evident. But repetition helps.

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