Print Edition of Fight to Evolve Now Available on Amazon. Rush!

Most of my readers asked for a print edition of my new book, Fight to Evolve: The Government’s Secret War on NTX.

Great news! Your book is waiting for you on Amazon. It’s just $17.99, and you’ll be happy to know that I don’t get a penny from the sales. All proceeds go to the Coalition for Safer Drinking and its fight to reduce alcohol’s negative effects on health.

If you, like me, prefer electronic books, you can get the Kindle version of Fight to Evolve for just $3.99 today, too.

If you know someone who drinks and you worry about their health, be a friend and buy a copy of Fight to Evolve for them, too. Two hardbound copies are about the same price as on bottle of good vodka. And you might save a life.

I’m Only Gonna Write This Once

I like to look at a picture of the person I’m writing to before I start writing.  Before starting this post, I looked at a colleague's online profile portrait.  Call him Phil.

Phil’s a great guy with a catalog of jokes that rivals the card catalog at the New York City Public Library.   Phil's problem: at work he writes stilted, complex letters full of huge words. Plus, he adds long strings of modifiers before every verb and noun. His so-called business writing misses his human targets altogether. 

So I’m writing this post to let him know, once and for all:

Businesses can’t read.

Got that?

If you’re writing to a business, you’re not #winning.  People read; buildings stand.  Whether you’re writing a blog post, a consultant’s report, or an email explaining your product’s benefits, your audience is a human being. There’s no such thing as business writing.

What did you say?  Some companies use scanners to “read” electronic documents? 

Great. Do you know who wrote the algorithms that categorize, prioritize, and route those scanned documents?  That’s right, people.

Simply, there’s no such thing as “business writing.”  Instead, write to one person. When you write person-to-person, you write naturally.  You write emotionally.  And you write efficiently. 

And since I promised to say it only once, I have no clean way to end this piece. :-)

7 Ways to Kill Your Modifiers

I like to say “there’s no such thing as business writing.” Okay, there is.  It’s called “sucks.” From where I sit, “business writing” refers to strings of meaningless modifiers interrupted periodically by bland verbs and flabby nouns.  Thankfully, we readers have hope.  And our hope comes from science, not from the English Department. Here’s what I mean.

Dan Zarrella, the social media scientist, has determined that nouns and verbs work, adjectives and adverbs choke.  Here’s the sharebility of various kinds of words:

Active verbs zoom around Facebook while adverbs die on the author’s wall. That’s because modifiers usually weaken a sentence. They encourage writers to use imprecise nouns and dull verbs. For example:

Dull: He walked quickly through the room.

Not Dull:  The tomcat tore through the kitchen.

Both sentences describe the same event and the same actor.  The latter conveys movement and excitement, while the former induces sleep.

Here’s an exercise. Take some piece of your writing and do the following:

  1. Circle all the adjectives and adverbs.  (Just in case you don’t know, adverbs modify verbs and adjectives modify nouns.)
  2. Delete the ones that weaken the sentence.  For example “He was a brave and valiant soldier,” feels weak compared to “He was a soldier.”
  3. Replace weaker nouns with more specific ones. (“Soldier” becomes “warrior.")
  4. Repeat for verbs. (“Walked” becomes “tore.”)
  5. Edit out the modifiers if their opposites would sound ridiculous. For example, “Our software is fast, flexible, and easy to use,” is weak because no one would tell you their software is slow, inflexible, and cumbersome by design.  (Hat tip Guy Kawasaki.)
  6. Replace adjectives that make important points with anecdotes that convey the message more powerfully.  You say, “She’s a compassionate animal lover.” Try instead, “She has taken in over forty rescued dogs and cats, giving them loving foster care until the animals were adopted.”
  7. Restore the (few) modifiers you just can’t live without.  Sometimes, you need to say “the red dress.”

These seven steps will leave your paper stronger, more readable, and more shareable.  Your readers won’t know why it’s so good, just that it’s really good.

If you get any compliments on this new style, please comment below.