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Writing for the Internet - Be Concise

March 26, 2023

writing.jpegWhether it's an article or a video
people act like
they're paid by the word.
If you can say it in five minutes,
don't take ten. Writing is for
communication, not self-aggrandizement.

The same applies to titles which make or break an article, video or movie. "You won't believe what Putin said" is a shitty headline. It should be "Putin blames CIA for Nord Stream Sabotage". Similarly the Coen brothers' great movie "Hail Caesar" failed to reach its box office potential because it wasn't titled "Eddie Mannix" after the main character. "Hail Caesar" tells you nothing.

Communication is not the same as self-expression. If you need to express yourself, keep a diary.

The Key to Good Writing
(Updated from June, 2006)
By Henry Makow PhD

The key to good writing is to consider your audience.

Recently a feminist sent me a long angry diatribe.

I replied: "Why would I read this once I figured out it wasn't praise?"

People expect you to read their thoughts just because they took the trouble to write them down.

Communication is not the same as self-expression. If you need to express yourself, keep a diary. 

In communication, your reader must want to read your work! You must have something original to say.  You must write in an inviting and compelling way.

Put yourself in the reader's position. He doesn't have much time or patience. He's looking for something that will inform, empower or uplift him.

You must pique his interest immediately and convey your message quickly. State your argument in the first paragraph!

The most common mistake is over-writing due to insecurity and the mistaken notion that articles must be long. 

Keep it short!  Weed out unnecessary words.  

The Internet is a very competitive environment. There is a plethora of good, free material. To compete, you must be as quick, easy and engaging as possible.

George Bernard Shaw said. "Have something original to say and say it in the shortest, most candid, straight-forward way possible."

If you're guileless, there is no reason to be nervous. 

Ideally, you'll be passionate about your information and your sincerity will be felt.


Clear writing requires clear thinking. If your message isn't clear to you, it won't be clear to your reader.

State your argument and give a few proofs. Don't cite a lot of evidence and expect your reader to discover your point.

(The reader wants your conclusions; he doesn't need your thought process. He will either accept or reject your views.)

Ideally, convey your message in the title and first paragraph so the reader can decide whether to read your piece.  Write in a linear way, one-thought-per sentence.

Don't use titles that say, "The Truth about Such and Such." Or "This is so shocking." Reveal the startling truth in the title.

Never repeat yourself, (as I am doing now!)

Good writing requires rewriting.

If you can, put the work away and look at it again over a few days.

None of this will stop the New World Order but it will enable us to communicate effectively.  


Related: George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"


Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for " Writing for the Internet - Be Concise"

Pad in Australia said (June 1, 2006):

Thanks Henry.

A mate just sent a link to your piece on “The Key to Good Writing”.

I suffer from the cursed gift of Algenon from the play about Ernest and his Importance.

It means I don’t write in accuracy and emit style instead.

Your piece will help me to do both.

So again … Thanks

Sonia said (May 29, 2006):

If your rules were followed, there would be no newspapers, junk mags, etc.
As usual, good article! If only more would follow your advice!
Further, if only conversational sentences/comments were not organized around "wow" "like" "cool"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One hears it everywhere, endorsed by the boobtube!
AAARGH! I remember one of Jeff's guests who had written a book about the English language and how years ago a sign of an "adult" was their language; now the adults ape their teens!!! Shows the immaturity that abounds in the US!!!!!
As we watch foreign-language TV, BBC, etc., nowhere does the man on the street sound so illiterate as here in the US. Ah, like, ah, ah, like, ah, ah, ah, ah like.....
Even soccer players when interviewed in So. Amer. can form sentences speaking their mind with no hesitation ----- and believe me, they are not university or even HS grads!!!!!

Mary said (May 29, 2006):

Thanks for the tips on writing--will use them! Just completed a Master's (with a Certificate in Holistic Health). Would like to write some workshops (with Handouts, of course) geared toward those who wonder if 'Holistic Health' is some kind of new 'Reality' sitcom, HMO, or diet bar. New at this and don't have a lot of years to learn it quickly (54 years old now), nor luxury or inclination to simply 'dabble.' Thanks! Mary

djd said (May 29, 2006):

Yours is one model used for arranging ideas for conveyance to others in writing. It is mechanical and thus involves the reworking of already known info into an acceptable format. Consider those who speak or write at the same speed as they intuit the ideas. They unravel fresh ideas and format without consciously doing more than opening oneself to the world
of inspiration.Nothing matters at this time except the exploration of the ideas that the attention has locked into.

Inspired writers care more for expressing what comes in via intuition than for pleasing the ego or accomodating the shortness of attention
spans. The message matters most and built into it is clarity,logic(linear, reticulate or otherwise), relevance, simplicity etc. The
reader(who must want to know)is then given a journey in which his soul is exhilarated and lifted. He is not the same afterwards. He was
enlightened, a bit at a time.

Tony said (May 28, 2006):

I have found the most effective way to do that is the way the schools -
with the help of such as Sesame Street - have indoctrinated the students for several generations now. Facts and the backup to facts - even reason, or maybe especially reason - is pretty much a waste of effort on the writer's part. What today's young have been "taught" (indoctrinated too) is short sloganeering with a strong emotional pull. The slogan can
be actually senseless when thought through but the politically savvy writer doesn't care as he knows it will trigger the particular emotional
response he is after. This occurs in advertisements constantly, of course. But, perhaps a bit more subtly, it is used even more in politics. Most have noticed that politicians give "non responses" in answer to most questions. But few note that these "non responses" are loaded with emotional hype. It's true that you can't get a "straight
answer" from a smart politician. He is going to get HIS emotional jog in, he doesn't care a whit what the question was.

Note how Bush's speech writers made his treasonous sabotage of the U.S. southern border invasion ring out to the naive as, at last, he's going to do something about the illegals. The real, now universally recognizable term for such speechifying is the simple word "bullshit."

Point is, "good writing" today may have several definitions so as to fit the targeted reader ability to discern the message. Sad perhaps, but
I'm afraid it's too true. I wish more writers on the side of right would see this and write to the mental abilities of their would be
audience. Short, strong emotional tugs will work for right as well as for wrong. In fact, when the message is right it rings more true, even to those whose mental processes have been made purposely fuzzy by the "educators" agenda of planned ignorance.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at