A wise English Literature once said: “Clarity is God.”
Clarity is important. Arguably the most important part of writing to learn.
If no one understands what the heck you’re trying to say, you may as well have handed them a blank page. And that’s not a good feeling to have after you’ve slaved over your work for hours/months/years.
But the thing about clarity is that it’s not always erm…clear how to get it right. After all, schooling tends to only teach us how bullshit by stuffing our sentences with a bunch of filler in the hopes that our professor/teacher will give us a decent grade.
However, this is what comes back to bite us on the booty big time.
Bullshitting can get you under a grader’s nose (sometimes), but it can’t get you into a reader’s heart.
But how exactly does one write with clarity?
1.) Keep It Simple With Word Economy
It’s not a coincidence that shorter sentences are the ones that we get right away. The longer a sentence is, the more a reader has to juggle your words to understand you. And if you’ve ever tried to juggle balls before in your life, you’d know that things tend to not be that easy after two.
So, if you can say what you need to say in less words without losing any major impact…cut, cut, cut.
I don’t know if any of you can relate, but I’ve never been praised for writing a long-ass overly complicated sentence. For writing simply and concisely though? Yes.
2.) Focus Like A Laser, Stay On Topic
This may sound like it’s only about the more technical types of writing, but it can happen in fiction too!
In fiction it tends to be watery descriptions that drift way off from our original intent. Or in some cases, descriptions that we get so caught up in that we don’t realize that they don’t actually describe anything at all aka. negative descriptions or the “it’s not A/B/C” treatment.
Sometimes it’s dialogue that meanders all over the place. I get sucked into this one from time to time, but I’ve gotten better at catching it.
As far as articles are concerned, it’s important not to get too caught up in side stories and irrelevant information.
3.) Be Exact, But Not Purple Prose-ish
Don’t say equine when you mean horse. Don’t say dog when you really mean shiba inu.
It might seem nit-picky, but word choice is extremely important. The mark of a descriptive master is the ability to pick the most precise word that the sentence needs without sounding like a pompous buttonhole. Bonus points if you can pull off poetic effects.
But of course this can also spark the debate of where do you draw the line of being exact and being a buttonhole?
And the way I answer that question is this…
Are you using the words that you must use to get your point across? If you lose critical sentence information, then yes, always keep that word. If you can find a simpler word that does the same exact thing, dump it like last week’s gumbo.
But Always Practice, Practice, Practice
Never do something once and call it quits if you’re genuinely trying to master it. Everything worth doing takes time and hustle. But clarity is something worth working on. Since it improves not just your writing projects, but your speeches, essays and other communication activities too!