Friday, July 23, 2010

Keeping Up With the Times

How many times have you taken a writing refresher course? If you’re like most people, probably never. If you’re more serious about writing, maybe once or twice.

Unfortunately, after most people leave school–high school, college, or graduate school–they rarely brush up on their writing skills. And while their skills have stayed the same, writing has continued to evolve.

Everyone learns to write for one reason and one reason only–to do classwork and homework in school. Seldom does anyone learn to communicate in a conversational manner, except to talk. Generally, most teachers don’t care much how their students talk. But on the outside, both talking and writing are important forms of communication. And the world of sheltered and structured academia is unlike anything on the outside.

Writing changes about every five years. While most people don’t notice these subtle changes, they’re there, nonetheless. Sometimes, it’s a change in the way people use punctuation while at others these changes may manifest themselves in certain forms of sentence structure.

Take semicolons, for instance. Back when teachers taught that writing was a more formal affair, people used semicolons extensively. Today, many writers use them rarely, as they tend to slow the reading down. Instead, they substitute a period for the semicolon and begin a separate but related sentence immediately following it. Are you one of those who’s still using semicolons?

Lots of things influence changes in writing, but none more so than the creation and appearance of electronic text, both on the Internet and in E-mail. Instead of writing in a longer, more formal style, writers are using a more concise approach. Writing is tighter and less flowery with fewer longer, more sophisticated words that many readers may not know.

Have you checked your writing style lately? Perhaps it needs a bit of updating.

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