Is “that” a bad word? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

Must you delete the word “that” when it connects two clauses in a sentence? Nope. Today, in response to a reader’s question, I restore your faith in “that” and show why you shouldn’t treat it as toxic. Dear Dr. Wobs: Why did you use the word “that” in Writing Without Bullshit where it didn’t seem necessary? For example … Continued

10 easy New Year’s resolutions for writers in 2017

Want to write better? Change a writing habit. Here are ten ways to be a better writer: pick one, then stick with it. (Tell me which one you picked in the comments.) 1. Stop sending first-draft emails. Most of what you write is email. While it creates the biggest impression in aggregate, you’re not spending … Continued

How a tweetstorm can punch up your writing style

Yesterday, we saw two incredible tweetstorms: NYU Professor Jay Rosen shared his thoughts on the unique challenges for journalists covering Donald Trump, while strategic analyst Eric Garland explained the rationale behind Russian hacking. Their tweetstorms reveal a new, disciplined way of writing, with no room for bullshit. Here’s what you can learn from writing a … Continued

Change how you write. It’s not that hard. And it’s worth it.

The main competition for my book Writing Without Bullshit is not another book. It’s inertia. It’s easier to do nothing. But the changes I’ve suggested aren’t that hard to do, and they make a big difference. The changes are simple and well-defined Here’s what the book says you should change, in a nutshell: Write shorter, and … Continued

How do you create great infographics? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

To create effective infographics, you need to have something to say, and then you need to tell the story graphically. Today’s Ask Dr. Wobs answer explains how to do that. Dear Dr. Wobs I’m inspired by your infographics that illustrate how to write without bullshit. I’d like to create some of my own for my audience. How do … Continued

Fresh metaphors

Picking metaphors and similes is like picking vegetables — the fresh ones have the most flavor. A good metaphor isn’t as old and hackneyed as the presidential horse race, nor is it as bewildering as a new version of Windows on the first day. Learn from the masters of metaphor, like Matt Taibbi. Metaphors should be clever, but not … Continued

How to work on an idea: write a treatment

It’s on the tip of your brain. An idea. You think you’re onto something. You’ve figured something out that nobody else realizes. What should you do next? Write an idea treatment. I’ll explain how. I hear from people who say they have ideas all the time. They say stuff like this: “I think I want to … Continued

The reviewers’ memo that will save your sanity

Managing reviews of your drafts is a pervasive problem. At my talk to PR professionals this weekend, only one person out of an audience of 150 said her review process worked well. Today, I’ll describe a key element of a disciplined process for soliciting, collecting, and combining reviews: the memo you send to reviewers asking for feedback. The reviewers’ memo: an … Continued