A white cloud of beautiful luxurious cream swirled atop a rich brew.
It’s called a cappuccino.
Something many writers are deeply in love with. Because coffee and writing go together like, well cream and java. I mean, we call coffee “Joe” for a reason. It’s a friend.
My husband and I recently bought a barista machine and have been experimenting. Creating that perfect cappuccino is harder than it looks. Exploring coffee got me thinking about content writing because that’s what I do. And while I love complicated coffee that looks like art as much as the next person, sometimes it is time to simplify.
Fluff in a cappuccino is good. In writing not so much.
Cappuccinos are topped with fluff. And while that fluff is delicious, in writing it can make our content hard to read. The digital age has brought with it so much content that it overwhelms readers. They are no longer patient or engaged with fluff.
While your coffee choice is deeply personal when it comes to your writing, allow me to make the case for espresso.
An espresso is powerful. A concentrated concoction of one to two ounces of full flavor. An espresso gets to the point in one shot. It’s not as fancy as a cappuccino but it is not easy either. It’s made with pressure and finely ground beans.
Writing to remove the fluff, get down to basics, and pack in the flavor takes skill. With that skill, you improve the readability of your content and engagement across devices.
Here are some ways to simplify:
- Cut down on adjectives and adverbs. These modifiers can make your sentences more complicated.
- Shorten your sentences and paragraphs. Especially for content that will live online. Bulk content looks overwhelming and can turn off readers before they even get started.
- Drop the jargon. Unless you are doing technical writing where it is necessary, look for words that readers will understand even if they are not in a certain field.
- Lower the grade level. This is not to assume people are not smart. But having to read at a higher grade level often takes the enjoyment out of it.
It takes skill to simplify your writing.
Simplifying your writing can improve your work and can also help you communicate better with clients. You can use the Hemingway App for this. Yes, named after that Hemingway. It will give you a grade level, let you know what sentences are too lengthy and complex, and identify cases of passive voice.
I used the Hemingway app on this post and discovered that “Drop the jargon” was better than “Eliminate the jargon.” “Drop” does have more impact don’t you think?
Ernest Hemingway had a background in journalism and liked to keep things simple.
As Study.com notes about Hemingway’s writing style:
Hemingway wrote the way people really talked or experienced things, rather than embellishing them for a more ornate style of prose. The author himself once said that a writer’s style should be direct and personal with wording that is simple and vigorous.
In the words of another famous writer and author of Children’s literature, “The shorter and the plainer the better.” — Beatrix Potter
That said, well-used flavorful language can be a plus to form a word picture. Like cappuccinos versus expresso. When you keep things simple your message is what’s impactful. Ready to give simplicity a try?