You know exactly what you want to say, but somewhere, on the journey from the brain to the paper, the message gets lost.
You may be trying to write your opening page for your website – you know how important it is to make a good first impression, but no matter how long you sit and look at your screen, you can’t get past, “Welcome to my site.”
The tricks of the trade
There are simple tricks that professional writers use, to help them overcome writers’ block, and once you’ve tried them a couple of times, you’ll find that it’s easy to get started.
But even after you’ve filled the page with words, you know, as soon as you read it, that it doesn’t really express what you want it to express. It lacks “something” – you’re not sure what that “something” is, but you know it’s not there!
The function of language
In order to give your writing that edge it needs, you must understand how it functions – this means that writing is just like every other human activity – its success depends on all its individual components working together.
It’s like making a motor car – you can’t just get four tyres, a steering wheel, a handful of nuts and bolts, a couple of pistons, a carburettor etc, toss them all into a barrel, give them a bit of a mix, tip them out on the garage floor and expect to see a Porsche smiling back at you … it’s not going to happen!
Likewise, you can’t just scratch a few words onto a page, and expect anyone else to know exactly what you meant. All words have a special function to perform in a sentence and you misuse them at your peril.
Consider this sentence:
- The police are searching for a man driving a cream car with red hair.
- Duty nurses will be found pinned to the office notice board.
The person who wrote these sentences knew what he / she meant, but the rest of us are likely to become confused, because of a simple fault in grammar.
“Yes”, I hear you say, “they’re pretty obvious mistakes, but I would never make a mistake like that.”
Hmm. Have a quick look at these sentences:
- My happiest moment was when my uncle gave me a horse.
- We managed to buy the two last seats for the concert.
- Now the rain has stopped, we can leave.
- The reason she was late was because the car broke down.
- Today is as hot, if not hotter than yesterday.
What do you think? Do they all look to be correct?
See how well you did here.