The Real Secrets of Great Writing

The Success Margin

Tuesday, March 8, 2005


Your writing can be much, much better. How to achieve this is what I’m going to discuss today.

So much of the world’s writing, especially on the Internet, is poor. It’s also incredibly boring. And,the worst thing you can do is to bore your readers.

But all writing can be significantly improved. And as you improve the quality of your writing, all kinds of good thing will start to happen to you.

Here are but a few of them.

Your ideas will be clearer and better under-stood. You will increase your influence over others by becoming far more persuasive.

An important benefit of improved copywriting is that your sales messages will bring far more response. Thus you will earn a far greater income and profits.

The secret to great writing can be summed up in a single word.


Writing that is respected and admired everywhere (and responded to) is the result of a lot of editing and rewriting.

There has never been a really successful best- selling author or copywriter I’ve known who doesn’t rewrite extensively. Of course, this includes me.

I do numerous drafts of everything I create. All my ads, sales letters, books and articles, including this one, are the end result of several rewrites.

Sometimes I do 5, 6, up to 12 or so drafts before I’m satisfied.

The best (and most appreciated) compliments I ever receive from readers are that my writing seems so clear, easy and effortless.

When you read my work, it may appear easy. But, believe me, the harder I work on any given project the more I get the positive feedback. And so will you. Here are 12 tips I have found that will help you, dear reader, constantly improve your writing skills.

  1. Outline what you want to say before writing a word.
  2. Create powerful headlines and sub- headlines prior to preparing the body copy. (See previous issues of The Success Margin for awesome headline techniques.)
  3. Write your first draft as quickly as possible without worrying about being perfect.
  4. If you have the time and are not fighting a deadline, leave a week of two for the editing and rewriting process.
  5. The first step is to start eliminating each and every unnecessary word. This includes most adjectives and adverbs.
  6. Tip: Make your writing as lean as possible. But here is the ideal. Write just long enough so your message is complete.

  7. Start strong. Finish strong. Rewrite your first sentence and last paragraph. They are crucially important.
  8. Tip: A good technique for a finish to any piece of work is a brief and exciting summary.

  9. Use a single idea in each sentence. Do not use two, three or more as do most writers. The exception is in a headline where you can use up to 3 related ideas.
  10. Make provocative promises. Then prove them with supporting facts.
  11. Use mostly short words should be 5 letters or less.
  12. Use short sentences should be less than 17 words.
  13. Use short paragraphsentences or less.
  14. Tip: Vary the paragraph length. Similar length paragraphs and sentences can bore the reader. Sprinkle in a few one-word paragraphs.

  15. Let your work breathe between rewrites.

Tip: Put your work down for at least a day and let it rest. Your next rewrite will significantly

As you incorporate these 12 tips in your writing, I know you will be delighted. And your readers will be too.

As always, here’s to your increased success.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas