Style and Substance

Less is More: Effort isn’t something readers want. Substance is. The shorter the article, the less bullshit.

Treat every word like it costs you something. Good communication is the ability to say the most in the fewest number of words. The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

Create People and Avatars, not Descriptions: Humans love characters and stories. It’s why we love cartoons, novels and movies. Humans have an incredible ability to empathize with characters and put themselves in their shoes.

Invent characters that are fun to follow and easy to remember. Characters are more memorable than abstract generalizations about a demographic. 

Use Short Paragraphs: Most people read on their smartphones. They’re busy and on-the-go. Don’t write 8-10 sentence paragraphs unless you’re making an important point.

Long paragraphs should be the exception, not the norm. Keep your paragraphs to five sentences, or less. Short paragraphs will make your article less intimidating and easier to read. Now, when you write a long paragraph, it’ll stand out and be seen as more important. Use long paragraphs sparingly. Save the length for when you need it. 

Style: Aim to produce something of worth, beauty and elegance. Steal stylistically from other writers, as all great readers do.

Write as smooth and naturally as you can and use the same voice you’d use if you and I were in a bar having a chat. Write for a reader who won’t read the essay as carefully as you do. If it helps, lead with something counterintuitive or provocative. Use footnotes to contain digressions. Vary sentence length. Occasionally, the reader needs a breather.

A pause.