For Those Who Don't Know Strunk and White

In my twenties, and the poet I was, I used the most flowery language to capture the deepest feelings ever.

That all changed when I went to grad school. Grad school broke my spirit. I could no longer use language to talk myself in circles without ever reaching my point. That's the fun of complex language, right? Dance around a point without ever addressing it? No, said my English professors, both current and ancient.

People don't like vagueness. They just want you to hit your point right away, wrap it up quickly, and don't bother them with the rest.

Substitute English professors with Internet skimmers. They see so much content every day, it comes down to specifics to keep their attention. The more specific and useful your language is, the better.

The more anticipatory (in a way that strikes a pathos), specific, and useful your content is, the more audience engagement you'll have.

The more vague, abstract, and emotional your content is, without ever touching their rational side, the more quickly your audience scrolls away from that message.

Be specific, narrative, and poetic. That's my one takeaway from grad school and the only way for me to hold onto my writing spirit. It's also my best language advice to writers who use social media, a web presence, and want creativity mixed in with business as usual.

Kansas City Central Library   

Kansas City Central Library