Eclectic Blog

Persuasive Writing Books

Hello MIT Participants,

Here is the information on the book that I had mentioned in class – Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words – by Joe Vitale.

I also suggest – The Language of Success – by Tom Sant. This book focuses more on general business writing rather than sales writing.

Good luck with your proposals!

Continual vs Continuous

Continual and continuous can’t be used interchangeably. While some people consistently use continuous, other people consistently use continual. For the most part, it’s because they don’t realize that there is another similar word to use, or they have forgotten that it exists.

Let’s examine the difference:

Continual means to repeat frequently, often in succession.
Continuous means to occur without interruption.

Remember that this difference applies to continually and continuously as well. Here are some examples:

The continual showers during the week delayed the office picnic. (The rain would begin, then end, then begin again…)
The continuous flow of information has been a great help. (The information came all at once without any interruption.)

Here are a few more samples:

His colleague’s continuous finger tapping drove him nuts.
The continual repairs at street level were distracting to the office staff.
The phone rang continually throughout the day.
She cried continuously after hearing she would be laid off.

Keep in mind that if you use the wrong word, you may be giving the wrong message to your reader.

Sentence length does matter!

If there’s one saying that will always be true, it’s “quality over quantity”. This saying is very helpful in reminding us that a long sentence leads to a frustrated reader. If the reader even reads the whole thing!

The general guideline for maximum sentence length is two lines typed. This two-line standard applies to a sentence using a size 12 font. So no cheating!

Consider two things if you find a sentence that exceeds two lines:

  1. Is it too long  because you have a long title in it – for example, The University of Winnipeg Division of Continuing Education?
  2. Is it too long because you are rambling or using too many bulky phrases - for example, I am writing this letter to acknowledge a response to your letter…?

If you have a long title in your sentence, you have a bit of grace. Go ahead and move a bit into line three.

If you are rambling, edit your sentence for bulky phrases. You’ll be surprised how you can shorten the sentence just by removing unnecessary words.

You may also find the overuse of these words in long sentences:

 and, but, so, or, yet, that, which, because

At each one, ask yourself if you can stop the sentence there, or if you can continue to the next one. These words are like road signs, will you stop or roll through to the next one?

Controlling your sentence length can make a huge impact in your documents. Controlled length allows for a clear, concise message. Your reader will be thankful.

Concise Writing

Here is a great quote from the Elements of Style (1918) by William Strunk Jr.

"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."


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