Rule #2 for writing

I’m doing a series of posts on how normal business people can improve their business writing.  If you need to catch up, refer to my post on Rule #1:  Make your most important point first. 

Rule #2 is:  Write simple sentences.  You can’t improve on the basic noun-verb-object sentence construct.  Of course, we all know we should avoid writing run-on sentences but I take it a step further.  I believe we should limit the number of compound sentences we use.   I especially believe we should limit the number of compound sentences that start with a dependent clause.   

Compare this: 

While we were evaluating the quality problems in the thingamabob project, it became clear that several steps had been bypassed.  Even though we had itemized the list of steps and reviewed it in several meetings, nonetheless the logistics team tried to save time by taking short cuts unlike the planning team which consistently follows procedure.  Because we’ve seen them do this kind of thing again and again, I recommend they all be fired.  Whenever one team takes it upon themselves to make exceptions, it makes it impossible for the rest of us to achieve the company’s goals.

 To this: 

I recommend that the entire logistics team be fired.  The team violated agreed-upon procedure when they bypassed several steps in the thingamabob project.  As a result, we have numerous quality problems.  This is the third time that this team has deviated from agreed upon procedure.  All teams must do their jobs thoroughly.  That’s the only way we’ll keep our projects on track.

Adhering to Rule #2 is difficult for me.  Compound sentences seem like a natural way to link one sentence to the next.    But when you have a bunch of them in a row, it gets hard to keep track of what’s going on.  Also, simple sentences help force you to keep to the point.  When I’m struggling with a paragraph, I can usually fix it by getting rid of one or two compound sentences.  Now I’ve set myself up to be graded on this post.

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One Response to Rule #2 for writing

  1. […] Rule #3 for writing This is the third in a series of posts on how normal business people can improve their business writing.  If you need to catch up, refer to my posts on Rule #1: Make your most important point first and Rule #2: Write simple sentences.  […]

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