The lesson of Juicero: corporate writing should not sound like a superhero movie

It’s been a tough week for Juicero, a startup company that makes an internet-connected juicing machine. Some Bloomberg reporters figured out you could make juice from the juice packs without using the Juicero machine at all. The CEO’s response on Medium is completely ineffective, because he can only see the world from within his limited, Silicon-Valley … Continued

Amazon’s unwisely lets the nerds apologize for its AWS outage

Much of the Internet was down for three hours last week. Because of an outage at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud-based service that powers Internet companies, hundreds of services like Medium, Slack, Quora, Reddit, and Kickstarter stopped working or worked poorly. Amazon’s Web geeks then bungled the response, focusing on jargon rather than clarity and empathy. … Continued

You should avoid lists of words to avoid

People keep sending me word lists. “Use these words,” they say. “Don’t use these other words.” If you want to be a better writer, these lists are useless, because they don’t change how you think. Words to ban from tech? This list is way too short Robert Dean lists “20 bullsh*t buzzwords that should be banned … 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

Responding to objections to “Writing Without Bullshit”

A lot of people think my writing advice is wrong. When you apply the principles in my book at work, you’re going to encounter resistance, because the way I teach writing is not conventional. Here’s a set of objections and counterarguments for when people tell you you’re doing it wrong. Business writing has worked fine for many … Continued

The “Will It Blend” experience of a book index

The joy of BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” videos is that they take expensive, painstakingly produced items — like iPhones — and reduce them to an undifferentiated mess. And that’s just what a book index does to the content in a book. Writing Without Bullshit covers a wide range of content, because everything is fodder for a writer. … Continued

Identifying and fixing toxic prose

Did you ever read a passage and then feel woozy afterwards? The problem is toxic prose. Three common writing problems, taken together, make it hard to figure out what people are trying to say. Passive voice. When you can’t tell who’s responsible for the actions in a sentence, it confuses you. Jargon. When a passage … Continued