Writing for Web – Chapter 2: Sound Like You, Only Better – Part One

Chapter 2 catered to the grammar geek in me. I sometimes hear people say spelling and good grammar don’t matter anymore. With the world of short handing for texts and readers skimming everything, why do I find spelling and grammar important? For preservation. Imagine a world where we answered by saying l.o.l. instead of laughing, or instead of the special “I love you” you heard I less than three you. It’s just not the same.

Felder states in her Best Practices for Web chapter that you should sound like you, only better. Writers know their voice and tone, and new writers may not have found it yet. Felder helps you observe others and your own style, so you can hear your voice and improve it. See below for an exercise that I urge all writers to do; it only takes a few minutes.

Assignment 2: Get a story or article you wrote, and mark all the ‘to be’ verbs. Get rid of them, and edit the phrases or rewrite the sentences.

Verbs to mark: to be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been, be

Examples from my article about Arts and Entertainment in East Mississippi:

Before

Meridian Little Theater is far from small in the hearts of Mississippians. This theater dates from 1932 and seats 400 attendees. This venue has grown to be the largest community theater in the state. With the help of nearly 1,000 volunteers, MLT is able to produce more than 50 performances a year.

After

The Meridian Little Theatre holds a big place in the hearts of Mississippians. This theater dates from 1932 and seats 400 attendees. As the largest community theater in the state, and with the help of nearly 1,000 volunteers, MLT produces more than 50 performances a year.

Before

The Meridian Museum of Art is located in the city’s only remaining Carnegie Library. Built in 1912-1913, the museum houses all that is art in the area. Along with supporting regional artists with exhibits and groups, the museum offers art education and outreach to the community.

After

The Meridian Museum of Art houses art in the area. Built in 1912-1913, the museum resides in Meridian’s only remaining Carnegie Library. Along with supporting regional artists with exhibits and groups, the museum offers art education and outreach to the community.

As you can see, the assignment truly made a difference. The writing becomes clearer, and overall I managed to cut about 40 words from this article.

Also in chapter 2, Felder gives you various tips on writing about writing succinctly, using conversational tone, and what to avoid such as idioms and trendy phrases. She also reworks the famous, “show, don’t tell” advice by insisting we do both – we show and tell.

I found these tips useful and will implement them immediately. For fun, see if you can find a ‘to be’ verb in my review, and feel free share your editing tips below.

For extra fun: This week my co-author recommended this inspirational video — creative types will enjoy this pick. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kc3JqVIIJA

2 thoughts on “Writing for Web – Chapter 2: Sound Like You, Only Better – Part One

  1. Denise

    Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all were grammar geeks? But I digress. This article has inspired me to go through my current work and weed out the ‘to be’ verbs. Thank you for posting this!

  2. Pingback: Writing for Web: Writing Succinctly? « Revenant Publications

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