Muscular writing – who doesn’t love it? Yum… I do! However, your writing may be flabby and unfit at this point.
Flabby writing is unattractive and unlikely to turn heads. Unlike muscular writing, it huffs and puffs before quickly running out of steam. Your readers’ eyes will glaze over. Your sparkling genius will be overlooked.
Instead, what if your muscular writing was so strong it did all the heavy lifting for you? Imagine a graceful, well-oiled torso glistening in the sun, every muscle efficient and well-coordinated. Then, even the most mundane action becomes a bewitching, mesmerising dance.
In this age of short attention spans, it’s important that you grab your readers’ attention FAST. Hypnotise them with luscious language. Pull them in and create a desire for YOU so strong they’re unwilling to let you go.
In this article, I’ve put together a compilation of tips under three different headings: mindset, technique and design. Implemented, they’ll have the desired effect of bewitching your reader. Go ahead, entrance them with your mesmerising physique.
To create an indelible impression, you must have a central theme that sticks in the mind of your reader long after they’ve read your masterpiece.
Allude to this message in your title and lead with it in your very first sentence. Expand upon different aspects of your message throughout the text. Then culminate in a glorious finale where you summarise your message.
Never confuse the reader with multiple messages that get lost in a fog of verbosity. If you want to create another message, write a second piece.
The personal is often the most universal. You touch the soul of more readers by going into that deep, intimate and painful place. This is known as sharing your “vulnerable story.” It’s scary to expose that much of yourself online, but there are ways to share and not share.
Your personal story is best shared after sufficient time for reflection has passed. When your story is no longer raw. The structure of your story is such that it serves as a vehicle to communicate your ONE message. Done right, it makes you relatable and likeable.
Compelling writing makes you feel something. It’s visceral. It grabs you in the guts and won’t let go. It’s day-dreamy.
The more you can describe sensual experiences in your writing, the more hypnotic it becomes.
Who doesn’t love reaching for the fig on the highest branch of the tree? The one cracked by the sun, purple seeds spilling out in a volcanic burst. The fig that escaped the pecking birds. That first bite of warm, sweet ripeness. The scent that bursts into intimate aliveness as it travels down your throat. The goo that sticks to your shirt.
Be constantly reading brilliant writing. An example of muscular writing is that of Julian Barnes who wrote Sense of an Ending and more recently, The Only Story. Every word in his novels works hard.
There are no excess words. The result is pure spaciousness. On every page, you’re electrified into life. You linger on each sentence, astonished how so little conveys so much. Be like Julian Barnes.
For writing online, breaking up your text into shorter paragraphs is essential. It’s easy on the eye and a pleasure to read. Large paragraphs are overwhelming and your reader will quickly switch off.
You can bold, italicise or use colour for emphasis, but don’t overdo it. If someone is skim-reading, these bursts are the ones you want to burn into their retinas, even if they miss the rest.
Spaciousness denotes calm and peace. If you want your reader to linger, frame your text with lots of white space. Let go of having to deliver everything and focus only on the essential.
Cramming too much in makes you come across as needy and desperate. Let it go.
Make your writing as easy as possible to read. Use a simple font (sans serif) in a decent size (14+) so that the over-40s can read your work even without glasses.
Black on white works best. Avoid migraine-inducing combinations such as orange on turquoise (even though that’s what the producers of Patrick Melrose use for the credits at the end of each episode. Unless you’re a certified “Cumberbitch” don’t do it!)
It’s important to get the structure right for what you’re writing online. A blog article has a particular kind of structure that gives your reader a comfortable and familiar place to linger.
The structure is defined by your central message, your headings and your conclusion. A great tool to use is Yoast, SEO plugin for WordPress. Using Yoast will ensure you get in the habit of sticking to structure, correct grammar and write for optimum readability.
Ditch the adjectives and make your verbs do the heavy lifting instead. That’s muscular writing in action (just like Julian Barnes).
For example, don’t write: “he had such a voracious appetite that he ate everything on his plate in ten seconds flat.” At 17 words long, we’re in danger of drowning in verbosity here.
Instead, use: “He wolfed down his food.” Only five words creates an image of a hungry dog and a sense of spaciousness.
Edit and prune ruthlessly until your text is sparse and sparkly.
Our friend Yoast will give you a good telling-off for using the passive tense. Professionals use the passive tense a lot and that’s why professionals are so boring.
An example of the passive tense would be: “He was stopped by the cops and fined for speeding.” (10 words)
Using the active tense often requires fewer words and communicates with more immediacy. Make your writing come alive by using this instead: “The cop fined him for speeding.” (6 words).
Most of your sentences should be short and fast to read. Short is any sentence under 20 words (according to our friend, Yoast). You may occasionally punctuate your fast text with a longer sentence, but as an exception rather than a rule.
Run a search and count how many times you’ve used the word “that” in your text. Then remove as many, if not all, instances of “that” as you can. “That” is a redundant, “filler” word. It’s flabby, not muscular writing.
After your first draft, run a grammar and spelling check. I’m always surprised at how few people actually perform this no-brainer task.
Amongst other things, running an auto check means you’ll need to:
Alright! That’s enough now. I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you. You now have the basics to check and edit your writing using the principles of mindset, design and technique. Use them and you’ll create muscular writing, every time. Leave the flabby writing for the salad dodgers.
When you’ve implement these tips, find out how to explode your content creation here.
Alternatively, in my Fast Guide To Empath Entrepreneur Start-Up you’ll discover the 3 essential steps you need to get your first clients online. Next, enter your contact details to get immediate access to your free guide, as well as my email coaching series that will guide you through it, step-by-step.
As an Empath Entrepreneur, I’m especially interested in helping professional women who want to take their amazing skills into a new online business with the aim of building a location independent income. I’ve had over 10 years’ experience in creating a compelling online presence. In fact, if you Google: “Dr Sophie Henshaw,” you’ll get over 201,000 hits with all the posts, articles and media appearances I’ve made over the years. I’ve appeared on Channel 10, 6PR, Fremantle Herald and WA Today. I’ve had articles published in PsychCentral, Women’s Agenda, NineMSN Health, Rebelle Society and Huffington Post. I’m currently a Thought Catalog contributor. P.S. I also practice as a clinical psychologist in my "offline" life!
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