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

We took a break last week, so thanks to everyone who commented and read my first movie review. Sometimes inspiration just hits you, and you have to run with it.

This week, let’s wrap up Chapter 2. The rest of this chapter is about organizing information for your audience. Many of us are aware that our attention spans are shorter, and the world moves much faster than it used to. We want information in chunklets, and we want to be able to scan without reading. Although, I’m a little sad that every precious word isn’t read, I get it. I do the same thing.

To practice what I’ve read, here are the most effective ways to write content for your audience:

  • Keep thoughts and sentences short for reader’s attention span.
  • Write a strong lead.
  • Avoid semicolons and multiple commas because they are hard to see on screen.
  • Use bullets and lists to organize info.

Felder focuses this week’s exercises on attention to detail and brevity. These assignments were especially challenging because it’s difficult to be detailed and brief. The one below was my favorite, and I used one of my favorite books – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – instead of an author. I admit, it’s pretty cool to work with Harry Potter.

The assignment:

Find a sentence by your favorite author. Every writer can improve. Take that sentence and revise it so it follows the best practices from the Web.

125 words – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This was pure imagination, however, as he had had no opportunity to tell Hermione what he had overheard. She had disappeared from Slughorn’s party before he returned to it, or so he had been informed be an irate McLaggen, and she had already gone to bed by the time he returned to the common room. As he and Ron had left for the Burrow early the next day, he had barely had time to wish her a happy Christmas and to tell her that he had some very important news when they got back from the holidays. He was not entirely sure that she had heard him though; Ron and Lavender had been saying a thoroughly nonverbal goodbye just behind him at the same time.

98 words – R. Petty, Writing for Web

Harry couldn’t find Hermoine to tell her what he had overheard. An irate McLaggen explained she left the party early, and she was in bed by the time Harry returned to the common room. The next day as he and Ron left for the Burrow, she rushed out so quickly he barely had time to wish her a Happy Christmas. He tried to explain that he needed to see her after the holidays, but he was not sure she heard him. Ron and Lavender had been saying a thoroughly nonverbal goodbye just behind him at the same time.

There are several differences in the above examples. I think Rowling’s is written well, however I learned she uses the word ‘had’ too much. I left the last sentence as is because I liked the way she words it. It could be shorter and more direct for Web, but it wouldn’t be as subtle or fun. I did get rid of the semicolon, so I followed one rule. As you can see, by writing for Web I managed to cut 27 words from the paragraph. I’m curious if it made a difference.

So, here’s my question for you: Did you read each word, or have you skimmed this entire post? What keeps your attention? Leave replies below!

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