Sunday, March 24, 2013

Make Sure Every Sentence Is Clear

In fact, I bet a lot of donating men leave sperm banks feeling oddly morose.

This unfortunate sentence--from an obnoxiously self-important post on gender relations--shows how tenuous the writer-reader relationship can be.

Imagine the reaction of a reader bumping into this sentence: Wait, sperm banks can have feelings? And just like that, with just one poorly-edited sentence, this extremely serious writer makes his readers laugh. Unintentionally.

How do you avoid this kind of writing error? Simplify. This sentence above may be short, but with three distinct nouns (I, donating men, sperm banks) it's far too complex. Remember, readers naturally associate and connect words near each other, so a short and complex sentence like this is ripe for unintended associations.

That's how sperm banks can feel oddly morose.

Strip down your complex sentences. Make your writing clear, not unintentionally funny.