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How to Reduce Clutter in Your Writing

You might think that with all the writing we do on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, that cluttered writing would be a thing of the past. You’d think it would be spare and to the point more than ever. You’d be wrong.

Outside of platforms where there are clear limits to reading and/or writing capacity, clutter seems to be worse than ever.

Here’s what I wrote today on the Moonlight Press blog…

Moonlight Press

by Patricia J.Parsons

In his book On Writing Well, an absolute must-read for anyone who writes, the estimable William Zinsser presents to us an entire chapter simply titled “clutter.” He begins by telling us that “…fighting clutter is like fighting weeds – the writer is always slightly behind.” This is probably truer these days than ever before as so many people seem to be writing and publishing books just because they can.

There are two ways that we clutter our writing. The first Zinsser describes as using a “laborious phrase which has pushed out the short word which means the same thing.” His example: “At the present time we are experiencing precipitation” rather than clearly stating: “It is raining.”

There is also another kind of clutter that is subtly different and has a different motivation on the part of the writer.

All you have to do is read the…

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Promoting your writer’s voice online: How do you sound?

A writer’s voice is a funny thing. For me, it imbues both my fiction and my nonfiction with a kind of style that has become something of a trademark for me. The question I pose on this week’s Moonlight Press blog asks whether or not your social media voice is congruent. I know mine usually is and since I have a bit of a wry style, that sometimes comes across as sarcastic. So be it…at least what you read is what you get. How about you?

Moonlight Press

If you write fiction, you’ve been told over and over that publishers and readers look for “fresh voices” and it’s much the same for nonfiction. A writer’s voice is that unique fingerprint that identifies that writer’s style, or as it was put to me early in my writing career, style is the sound your words make on paper.

Writers spend a lot of time cultivating this voice then completely ignore it whenever they are online. Doesn’t it just make simple sense, though, that you’d want your social media voice to emulate the kind of style and voice a reader will find in your writing? It does to me.

Modern social media marketing strategy suggests that online tactics and tools are key to the promotion of absolutely everything these days, books included. So why do writers often forget that their voice everywhere online ought to be consistent and reflective of who…

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Collaborative writing: Is it for you?

I willingly admit that, as a general rule, I “don’t play well with others.” There have been only four occasions in my writing life when I’ve worked with a co-writer and on each of those occasions, it was someone I knew very well. It was my husband.

Back in the day when I was still writing mostly in the area of health and medical nonfiction, I teamed up with my husband who happens to be a physician, to write four books. We slogged through book proposals together, through submissions and contracts with three different publishers as it turned out and finally gave birth to four books. We found our rhythm and it worked. But it doesn’t always…My latest post on Moonlight Press.

Moonlight Press

There’s little doubt that writing is, in general, a solitary business. That’s why keeping your momentum, as we discussed last week, is so important. No boss is demanding that you complete the work or risk your job. It’s just you. However, there might be times when you ought to consider a collaboration. There may be strength in numbers in some realms, but writing is not always one, although it can be. The idea raises questions though.

  • Under what circumstances does writing with a collaborator make sense?
  • How do you find a compatible collaborator with the right background and expertise?
  • Since it’s clear you can’t use the same writing process you use when working alone, how do you develop a successful collaborative writing process?

We often tend to think that collaborative writing is suited only to nonfiction. Whereas nonfiction does indeed have its fair share of collaborative writing (have you ever…

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