Your words, only better

Clear, Concise & Compelling

How do you know when your writing is clear, concise and compelling? 

  • Is there a hook that makes the reader want to continue reading?
  • Does the essay hold interest from sentence one, through the middle to the end?
  • Does the ending satisfy the reader?
  • Is the theme obvious without pounding the reader over the head?
  • Does the essay make the reader want to call you with praise for writing it?

 There is no magic formula to guarantee you have written a compelling essay, however there are three common qualities found in compelling writing: Immediacy, Emotion and Imagery.

Immediacy puts the reader into the essay, conveying a feeling that he is living through your experiences.  The reader might not have had the same experiences as you, but he can easily identify with you and “experience” the essay from your viewpoint. 

How does a writer create immediacy?
1.  Use a universal theme, an experience or emotion anyone can recognize and understand to relate to the reader. Make your experience the reader’s own experience.  It can be as simple as asking, “Have you ever experienced this?” to invite the reader along on a journey through your eyes.

2.  Offer details about emotions and responses. Your experiences might not be common ones, but emotions are universal.  The reader can identify through your feelings and responses. For compelling writing, focus on your response or reaction to an experience.  What is going on inside your head and your heart?  An unemotional essay is a dead experience for the reader.

Emotion contributes to immediacy, and stands on its own as an important element in a compelling essay.  We often think of great writing as evoking emotion in the reader.  However, truly compelling writing begins with the emotion of you, the writer. If you don’t care about your essay, why should the reader? If you are bored with your essay, the reader will also be, too. 
Write with enthusiasm.  This alone will set your essay apart as nothing else can.  If you can’t wait to put the words on paper, the reader will be just as anxious to follow the essay through to the end.
Don’t settle for anything less than your best, every day, every page, every essay.  Life is too short to write anything boring.  Play in your essay. Enjoy it and the reader will also.

To infuse your writing with emotion:
1.  Write with enthusiasm that is contagious.  Whether your reader is interested or not, agrees or not, he will be influenced by your passion for the essay. Act out the emotions in your writing. When you watch a movie, you don’t have a narrator telling you “Joe feels angry now.”  You see Joe react to a situation.  You see him explode, slam his fist into the palm of his other hand, fight to control his emotions in front of his friend.

2.  Use descriptive language and specific detail.  Your essay needs to have that impact.  Show emotions, don’t tell the reader what you were feeling.  Describe emotion through action and reactions so that the reader experiences it along with you.

Imagery is “creating word pictures.”  Dynamic authors use old words in new ways to create sensory details.  Consider the words “like” and “as” followed by some descriptive details that compare the known with the unknown.  In this way, your reader can feel what you experienced. 

By using Immediacy, Emotion and Imagery, you can up the compelling quotient of your writing and propel the reader through your essay. 

Joyce Good Henderson