The best bloggers are like the best writers anywhere and they will take suggestions and advice from anywhere they can get it. The other day I was looking through my books and came across an edition of a style book for newspapers that I used back in the early 1980s. A lot of the rules that applied then are still good foundations to know today.
It’s important to remember that the business of writers is to say exactly what they mean, no more and no less, but sometimes using words carelessly or loading up a blog with jargon can impart values and judgments where they don’t belong. Take a look at a few of these examples.
Admit. You need to be careful with this word because it implies that someone is yielding under pressure. When you write, The banker admitted that the interest rates were not the best for homeowners at the time, you’re implying that the statement was forced from him or somehow pried out. I read quite a while ago that when you’re attributing any kind of statement the best tag is a simple word said. If you try to describe the emotional state of the person talking, you should be able to write that into their actions and not rely on a dialogue tag to give the readers a clue as to what they should be thinking.
Only. Here’s another word that you can use without thinking too much about it but one that can come back to turn on you in the end. Consider this sentence: Only five of the laws passed through the Senate. Do you mean that there were more laws that should have passed? The point here is that you need to watch the derogatory meaning this word can carry.
Claim. Here’s another word that people use that can have quite a different meaning from the intended one. Here you need to be careful that you don’t cast doubt on someone’s assertion. For example, The policeman claimed he saw the gun, casts doubt on the fact. At the same time a sentence like, I’m a better singer than most of the other people in this building, the diva claimed, is a proper usage.
Of course this is not to say that you should not use these words, only that you should use them carefully and think about what they mean before you do.
My old journalism textbook also has some other good news about writing in general that applies to blogging. It says on one of the early pages that writing is in fact the art of the second thought and what springs to mind first is never good enough. The book says that the skill in good writing lies not in a gush of words on a page or a monitor, but sorting through those words and ideas to make them precise and clear.
Ask yourself, ‘have I said what I meant to say?’ and that question will help you to decide whether you need to rewrite and how many times.