Five Ways to Write with Flair
By Heather Holleman, Ph.D.
Most of us will have thousands of occasions for writing in the next year: emails, text messages, resumes, blog entries, cover letters, articles, love letters, essays, reports, memos, or our next big novel. How do we make our writing interesting to our audience? With flair!
It’s easy. I know 5 methods. Ready?
1. Choose a verb with flair.
Eliminate feeble verbs (am, is, are, was, were, has, have, had, seems, appear, exists). These verbs don’t show anything happening. Use exciting verbs. I love verbs like grapple and fritter. Grapple with strong verbs to fritter away the feeble ones.
2. Toggle between the Big 5 punctuation marks.
When you want to create complexity and voice in your writing, try using the Big 5: semicolon, colon, dash, parentheses, and comma.
To highlight a part of your sentence–like this one–use dashes. Dashes shout. On the other hand, if you want to whisper and share a secret with an audience (like this one), use parentheses. Parentheses whisper. Semicolons confuse most; they unite full sentences that belong together because the second sentence explains or amplifies the first. Commas help the reader along by following introductory clauses, or they combine two sentences when you want to use a conjunction like and, but, for, or, nor, so (commas can be really hard unless you had grammar instruction as a kid). Finally, the colon designates that a list or definition will follow.
So the Big 5 include: semicolon, colon, dash, parentheses, comma.
3. Vary the length of your sentences and change the way they start to create rhythm.
See sample paragraph above.
4. Garnish your paragraph with some clever wordplay if you can.
Common cleverness in writing includes: puns, repeated first words, self-answering questions, understatement, just being funny, just being YOU. However, avoid overused expressions and clichés.
5. Engage your audience.
Establish rapport by talking to them. Are you wondering how this works? Just notice them in your writing (like I just did). Make it obvious that you are talking to people.
Try these simple things to create some flair in your writing today. Enjoy some written flair.