[This is the latest weekly post from our intern, Tessa. You can find all her posts here.]
Did you ever read a letter from a nonprofit and feel that something was not quite right? Maybe you found it hard to read and weren’t sure why. When writing, you want your flow to be as “on” as possible. Here are five things to remember that will make your flow as smooth as possible.
1. Be Consistent
Inconsistency is one of my pet peeves. If you capitalize a noun in one place, make sure you capitalize that noun every time you mention it again. For example, The French Club shouldn’t evolve into the French Club or the French club throughout your piece. The same goes for abbreviations. If you introduce an abbreviation at the beginning of a letter, don’t start referring to it by its full name again half way through. People will get confused.
2. Don’t Liberally Toss Your Articles Around
I read a cooking article the other day that mentioned four things: The peppers, the onions, the carrots, and the garlic. Four words there are unnecessary. The whole thing is bulky. Keep it to peppers, onions, carrots and garlic. Only use articles like the, a, and an when they’re required.
3. Alliteration is Nice
If you can swing it, throw some alliteration into your piece. Clear, concise and compelling flows better than clear, brief and engaging. (By the way, you should be all of these things.)
4. Write in Threes
I’ve done a whole blog post dedicated to this topic, but I’ll summarize here. There is something about the number three that sticks in people’s heads and makes your writing or speaking sound better. If you have two and can come up with a third reason, adjective or example – do it. The same applies if you have four and can eliminate one.
5. Split Up Your Sentences
There’s no benefit to a sentence with three conjunctions, six commas, and endless words. When you can, split up your clauses into independent sentences. It will be easier to read and understand, I promise!