That, There and Then

From Self Editing Tips #2 on Write Anything:

Annihilate the words ‘that’, ‘then’ , ‘there are’ or ‘there is’ or ‘to be.’ . Its a rare piece of text which requires either of these words to show up regularly or as a valuable or necessary participant. There are always better ways to write sentence without having to use those phrases.

The words ‘that’ and ‘there’ are two I try to watch for in my own writing. I know I over use them. Practice taking them out as you are writing. You can see how your writing has more punch when you eliminate these space takers. There are some words, like these, which wind you down rather than wind things up.

From Defying Gravity

Hell If I Know = H2IK

From the sci fi show, Defying Gravity. I’ve watched the show a few times, it’s confusing with popping around to the present and past frequently. So I haven’t really gotten into it. But, tonight, I like H2IK. Kind of fun to come up with short forms for common phrases. What can you come up with for a few you use often?

Whatever it is that we do = WIITWD (I remember this one from my days on IRC). Could also be W2ITWD.

An Igloo of Love

On the left side of the page, list tangible nouns: house, garden, train, truck, tree…

On the right side of the page, list abstract/ intangible nouns: trust, peace, misery, dreams…

Now combine them in a phrase like this:  A ____ of ______.

Play around, create interesting phrases and some new cliches. Some will be silly, some will be obscure and some may turn out to have a lot of power in just four words.

Using Catchy Phrases

Hitting their sweet spots has never been more important than for someone writing on the Net. What is a sweet spot? To take it out of writing context, think of yourself driving over a bumpy train track but steering your car to the side, to a spot where it’s not bumpy. That, sweet spot, is the easy on your car and yourself.

In writing the sweet spot, as I think of it, is hitting just the right word or phrase. Something that your reader is looking for and has a personal ‘thing’ for. For instance, to appeal to women you can use words like ‘diva, goddess, grrl’. Phrases like ‘adventure living, backpacking, Earthy’ appeal to nature lovers. There are better choices but those are the current pickings of my brain. Hope you get the idea.

Anyway, those catchy phrases and words are even more important online because people will be searching for them. Your article will be picked over by search spiders and those catchy, sweet spots will be caught in their web and added to a mind boggling list. You may not be first on the search list but you will appear somewhere. That’s why those sweet spots should be considered, not just in titles, subtitles and descriptions but throughout the article or essay. Don’t go crazy over it. Too much is not a good thing. But keep them in mind and don’t think it’s too cliché to use the odd cliché if it’s an effective sweet spot.

Consider some of your own sweet spot words and phrases. Which appeal to you especially? Why?

One way to find sweet spots for a certain group of people is to join one of their online discussions, chats or boards and keep track of what comes up frequently. Let me know if you come up with more sneaky ideas.