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To cope with its recurrent flooding, Miami Beach has already spent something like a hundred million dollars. It is planning on spending several hundred million more. Such efforts are, in Wanless’s view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later—and probably sooner—the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages.
Peanut Butter and Jelly is a big favorite, so imagine a delicious PB&J and let's write about it......
Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are very yummy and easy to make.
"Wrap it Up!" When you have finished telling the reader everything she needs to do, you need to tell the reader the last step and then wrap up, or finish the explanation in a way that helps the reader feel that they did a good job.
The words, "Last," or "Finally," are great words to signal the reader that they are near the end.
So if you are telling the reader about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you could write this........
Last, you put the two pieces of bread together to finish making your Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
I thought I knew how to write until I took my first journalism writing class in college… and I have to say, the best thing I learned was how to keep my writing short and sweet. In these days short attention spans, metadiscourse is a strategic writer’s worst enemy.
I both agree and disagree. Specifically regarding the metadiscourse point, it completely depends on the context. It depends on the style taken. It depends on the content the writer is selling.
@Mark Claudius–I think you have found just the right balance. Eliminate metadiscourse rigorously in blogging/marketing copy. But it certainly has its uses in more personal, potentially touchy communication. I should have made that clearer, but I also wrote this post for a blog with a tagline that says “copywriting tips for online marketing success.” So, I think the rules fit the context here. You made some great points.
I agree that we shouldn’t dumb things down, but there is a difference between making a piece of writing accessible to a broad audience, and simply dumbing it down. That difference is sometimes unclear, but I think it’s generally better to lean toward simpler language, at least in the context of sales and advertising copy.
If there isn’t one, then using three redundant modifiers to describe something is overkill, which is the opposite of what I advocated in my post title–clear and DIRECT writing.
If we’re writing something that’s meant to be entertaining (literature, for example), then using more poetic language is certainly acceptable. Even in this case, though, simplicity of language—or at least economy of language—can be valuable.
To me, the gunmetal expanse of water and grass appeared utterly without markers, but Osceola, who could read the subtlest of ridges, knew exactly where we were at every moment. We stopped to have sandwiches on an island with enough dry land for a tiny farm, and stopped again at a research site that McVoy had set up in the muck. There was a box of electrical equipment on stilts, and a solar panel to provide power. McVoy dropped out of the boat to collect some samples in empty water-cooler bottles. The rain let up, and then started again. ♦
I agree with your point about meta-discourse, but I think saying “To sum up,” can be fine. Creating signposts for the reader who may only be skimming your writing is just helpful. Yes, sometimes you DO have to beat them over the head with it, and a summary can be pretty important.
I know that the success I have had with my writing went up once I took a college course that helped me to seriously eliminate metadiscourse. It was jarring at first seeing so many phrases and sentences redlined out, but it was also wonderful. I learned what clarity is and how to use language more clearly.