Your Best Writing May Not Be What You Think

Your Best Writing May Not Be What You Think 1024 576 Reader Views

Your Best Writing May Not Be What You Think 

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

One of the biggest writing problems I see among people in my mentoring program, and others who hire me to improve their writing, is that they’re afraid to write like they talk. Perhaps they fear “wordiness,” but sometimes writing like you talk is less wordy.

For instance, they never use one-word sentences. Or fragments. Those, for sure, are not wordy!

They refuse to start sentences with words such as “and” and “but” because an elementary teacher way back when told them not to.

They try to sound important when they write. So, they use long words in long sentences that make up long paragraphs.

They remove all slang from their writing so it’s clean and pure. And often, boring.

Business coach Michael Angier agrees.

“Too many times, I see people who are good verbal communicators try to put on a different air in their writing,” he says. “It doesn’t work. It’s much better to be conversational.”

Writing like you talk is one of thirteen tips Michael offers for writing clearly and convincingly. It was one of the lead articles in an issue of Joan Stewart’s free subscription newsletter, The Publicity Hound

Lisa Cron’s book, Wired for Story, shows us how humans were storytellers long before they were writers and how the processes in their lives wired us for story. Story and anecdote. It works for articles like this. It works for novels—great novels. And you’ll see it appearing more and more often as part of news stories. Another book I recommend is Tom Chiarella’s Writing Dialogue, published by Writer’s Digest. You may find it inexpensively on Amazon’s New and Used feature. 

In the newest book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writing, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, I remind authors that the best blurbs and endorsements come from people who compliment their books and their style in off-the-cuff conversations. When asked to write a blurb or endorsement, the same people may use language that is stiff, official—and unconvincing. I tell them to ask their contacts (or reader) if they can use what their reader just said to them rather than having them back up and make it into a brittle, lifeless twig.

And in the second edition of my Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tipsas a sort of addendum to the winningest book in my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, I talk about how fear of breaking grammar rules (that often, by the way, aren’t really “rules” at all!) leads to unnatural dialogue. This little book also contains some of the word trippers I see most frequently in my clients’ work, and that is where there is no room wiggle room for making the wrong choice. 

Readers probably spent many years reading staid textbooks. They may now prefer to learn what they need quickly. When authors make their point with stories (and do it colloquially), they find their readers more easily bond with them. It’s about connection. Think loyalty. 

Have you ever wondered why many are turning to the web for information, even at the risk of fake news and unprofessional advice? They are in a hurry. They’re after easily absorbed information (retention). You can provide both. Sure. Watch for wordiness. But don’t skip the story your readers’ brains crave, told in a voice that suits that need. They’ll love you for it.

About our Guest Editorial Contributor

Carolyn Howard-Johnson writes fiction, poetry; and the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher, now published by Modern History Press. She is now working on the final proof of the third edition of her winningest book, The Frugal Editor for that same press where her entire series will soon be published in house.

This guest post (It’s really about editing!) reminds me of how basic book editing is needed by most authors and how glad I am to be bringing The Frugal Editor up to date with a new cover and nearly 50% new information—or so Victor Volkman, my publisher, tells me. Please visit my profile page on Amazon and follow so you’ll get notification of its release.  (By the way, a profile is a free Amazon benefit authors aren’t using enough. Check it out for your own needs through

“She Wore Emerald Then”
A chapbook from across hemispheres for Mothers  by Californian Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Aussie Magdalena Ball. From their multi award-winning Celebration Series
Signature art from Carolyn Wilhelm,
Cover photography  by May Lattanzio
Available on Amazon as ebook or paperback:

Self-Published in the age-old tradition of poets since before the Gutenberg Press

Twitter: @FrugalBookPromo

Amazon Profile: Buy PageHttps://

PS: Learn more about my fiction and poetry at: [Use this link without the “http://” or “https:// to access the correct page! Ahem!]

1 comment
  • Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Thank you, @ReaderViews, for allowing me to share with your writing audience! I love sharing others’’ books, too. Like @lisacron ‘s, some of my favorite @WritersDigest books like @TomChiarella ‘s, and more.

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