Category Archives: Growing as a writer

A little more on ethos-building: rhetorical devices that can make your writing more credible

When I wrote about strengthening your credibility I neglected to mention a couple of rhetorical devices that can help boost your ethos. “But what’s a rhetorical device?” No, a rhetorical device is not a speech-writing machine. First, rhetoric is the … Continue reading

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“Be vewwy quiet! I’m hunting intensifiers!”

A modifier is a word or phrase that modifies another word or phrase by adding descriptive, limiting, or qualifying details. Adjectives modify nouns, and adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and everything else. Intensifiers are a special class of modifier that work … Continue reading

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Strengthening the pillars—Ethos, or “a reason to believe”

A while back, I introduced you to (or reminded you about) the pillars of effective communication: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. (Here’s a quick refresher: ethos is your credibility, logos is the evidence and logic you use, and pathos is the … Continue reading

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Writing is a pipeline for ideas

“Ideas are not really alive if they are confined only to a person’s mind.”—Nancy Duarte One of the most beautiful parts of writing (or of speaking) is what I call idea flow. That is, writing is a pipeline that allows … Continue reading

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Here’s an exercise you can try this week: Make everything you write as simple as possible. Think Shaker furniture. Don’t add words. Cut them. Pare your message to its core. Don’t use big words. Use the simplest words you can. … Continue reading

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Persistence and the writer

What does it take to be a successful writer? A few different things, but there’s one thing that we often overlook: persistence. I’m guilty of wishing for shortcuts, or hoping for a lucky break. (I’ve given up on “overnight success; … Continue reading

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The pillars of effective writing: Ethos, Logos, Pathos

In architecture, a pillar holds up the building. Effective writing has pillars as well: fundamental principles that hold it all up. Aristotle studied the art of effective communication—he and his fellow philosophers called it rhetoric—and identified three basic things that … Continue reading

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After the first draft, start cutting

You’ve finished your first draft. Now what? Start deleting. Why begin by cutting? Why not check your grammar or spelling, search for unnecessary jargon or passive voice, or simplify the language? Your first draft will contain things that you don’t … Continue reading

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The Ability to Write Well is “Unobsoletable”

Do you ever worry that your hard-earned skills might become obsolete? That someday, the knowledge that you have worked so hard to attain, the abilities you have toiled to hone and polish, might suddenly lose their value in the workplace? … Continue reading

Posted in Business writing, Growing as a writer, Writing is good for you | Tagged | 3 Comments

Five Basic Stories

There’s something about a story that grabs our attention. And getting people to pay attention is something that every writer wants, right? Ergo, writers who learn how to use stories become better writers. Over at, Nick Morgan tells us … Continue reading

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