For Writers: The Importance of Thinking It Through

Today I happened across the following comment added to an article, by the writer of the article:

@Matt - Hi Matt, Completely agree on the maturing nature of the space. The big issue that both Sam and myself see (and what we explore in the imminent book) is in trying to actually standardize influence to begin with. There are far too many factors at play - situations people are in, emotional factors, peer influence, etc. - that to try and place a one size fits all score on that person opens up immediate flaws. Instead, we need to move away from having today's "influencer" definition at the centre of the marketing circle, and instead place it back on the person that truly matters - the customer. We're looking forward to expanding on this report's results in the next few weeks when our book is released.

I had to read this paragraph about three times to understand what the writer was trying to say.

Granted, it's a comment, and therefore not really intended for scrutiny. But I also can't help thinking that if this man wants people to read his book, he should take a little more care with his posts!

I highlighted in red the things that stand out as egregiously wrong, but all in all, the paragraph is a mess.

Part of the problem is the thought process behind the writing. When the thoughts aren't clear, the writing never will be. I contend that a large part of the failure of young writers isn't so much stylistic or grammatical, though those are problems as well. It's coherent thinking. Time doesn't seem to be taken in organizing the thoughts before starting to type.

What's the central thesis? (The so-called "topic sentence" that was so important when I was a budding writer.) What points will be used to support that thesis? Which are most important? Which require support from other sources, or references to others' work? How do all the points made in the piece build toward a conclusion? If you're going to use a word (like "imminent") do you really understand it and know how to use it in a sentence? If you're not positive, then look it up.

Yes, yes, it's true: this paragraph was probably dashed off in a hurry, and the writer never read it over before hitting "submit." But since he has an "imminent book," it might be wise to take a little care, if only to convince anyone reading his comment that his book would be worth buying. As it is, I wouldn't consider it for a moment. The paragraph was punishment enough.


Popular Posts