Using Synonyms: Creating Literary Gems With Rich, Varied Word Usage

I have a confession to make: when writing any paper, I have a dedicated tab open on thesaurus.com to help me come up with ways that will help my ideas flow seamlessly together. Indeed, a good writer is supposed to come up with their own ways to creatively express themselves. However, I suffer from a common problem: word repetition.

Every author that has ever tried to string together a comprehensive text eventually runs into a problem; we sometimes tend to write in a way that more closely reflects how we speak, rather than in a way that creates an easily readable and enjoyable text. There’s an important difference to note here.

Whereas documents are (supposed to be) written in a style that entices the reader to keep going, spoken language is an entirely different beast. When speaking, it’s common to use certain phrases repetitively – in such situations, we have the advantage of inflection, body language, and facial expression to helps to emphasize our ideas more clearly.

Writing doesn’t have that advantage. The closest tools we have in English to an indication of sentiment are emojis and they are rarely appropriate in anything except the most informal settings.

To counterbalance this, a good writer tries to use varied words with more or less the same meaning in his or her texts. Searching for synonyms is important when writing anything. If you use too many of the same words or expressions, you can get into slight trouble.

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Common Novice Writer Mistake #1: Stop Repeating Yourself.

“Anta, you’re not writing affirmations. Stop repeating yourself.”

When my mentor and long time business partner told me this, I took it personally.

I’m not repeating myself. What the hell? I thought to myself.

It turns out that my habit of writing variations of the same text was so ingrained, I was at the point where I didn’t even recognize it. A sly grin creeped on my friend’s face, as if he sensed my consternation. He started reading the beginning of my paragraph:

As the massive ship glided into the port, it seemed to almost swallow a smaller motorboat that struggled to maintain its place in the docks. The USS Wisconsin was truly, impressively enormous in every sense of the words. It was hard for little Sammy to comprehend the sight of the entire ship all at once.

“My God, it’s almost like an entire city in itself.”

“Hear the echo?” my friend asked. He thought that I was repeating myself too much and he had a point. I was underestimating my readers’ comprehension. I had already written that the ship was massive, and repeating that it was incomprehensibly enormous for two more sentences was stretching a description to its limit. Readers should have already gotten the point by then, and if I needed to drive the point further, I would have other opportunities to do so.

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Mind Hack: Using The Barnum–Forer Effect To Connect To Your Readers on a Fundamental Level

I recently came across a particularly interesting technique, which although can veer into the slightly unethical, clearly illustrates how a writer can use insights into human nature to improve their literature and connect with their audience.

Have you ever heard of the Barnum-Forer effect? Essentially, in the middle of the 20th century, several psychologists were trying to delve into the core characteristics individuals tended to attribute to themselves. They conducted a personality test where students were given a “personality test” and later were given the results of the test based on how they answered. There was a catch, though; everyone was given the exact same result.

Some of the students that participated in the study were so touched by the results, they were moved to tears!

Even more interesting was the fact that the personality traits they fabricated were based on horoscopes, graphology, and other controversial forms of parapsychology. Some of the common traits they included in their “results”, which we will be taking a deeper dive into were:

  1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
  2. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.
  3. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
  4. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.
  5. Security is one of your major goals in life.

What exactly does that mean? Are human beings fundamentally the same? Do we all perceive a certain set of values and try to work towards them?

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4 Killer Ways To Encourage Your Audience To Take Action: Exploring The Nudge

After working in copywriting and freelancing for many years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. People in our industry tend to mystify the sales process. Sure, there are hundreds of little things you can do to improve the conversion rate of a certain piece of copy, but ultimately, only a few factors decide whether or not someone will buy your product. Most of it comes down to the subtle art of influencing people.

No, I’m not referring to some weird mind control trick where expert level hypnosis is used. Influencing people is quite easy, and this article will dive deep into one particular method that is widely referred to as the nudge.

As an example, I’m notoriously bad at replying to emails and other text messages. However, contrary to my terrible habit, I replied very quickly just the other day to a message from a friend of mine. He specifically wanted to organize an event for several people to attend and was wondering which day would be most convenient for me. So, about a week ago, he sent me the following message:

Hey Anta, can you tell me on which date you’re free to attend the event?

Several days passed and I still hadn’t replied. Like I said, I’m terrible, but not necessarily intentionally. I had already seen the message and I had thought that I could probably respond at a later time. Procrastination seems to run deep in my veins haha. In fact, I had already formulated a response. After some time, my friend tried a different approach:

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The First Rule of Effective Writing: It’s Not About YOU

It seems a bit obvious to say, but in this digital age of instant consumption, readers are only becoming more impatient and quitting sooner than you might think. The average reader of this website stays for an average of 12 to 34 seconds before their attention span gets the better of them, and long before they can begin retaining any of the useful information I’ve jam-packed within. You have to take this information into account when writing for a client or even for your own projects.

Fortunately, it’s fairly simple, if not necessarily easy, to get into the head of the client and the reader. With a little bit of patience and practice, you can begin to reach the core of your audience and speak to them like a close friend.

Speak Plainly!

Clear communication with your customers ensures that they remain customers.

Let me say that another way for people that are slightly hard of hearing: simple, clear communication is what will put money in your pocket.

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