6 Simple Exercises to Help You Write Better Short Sentences [Free Worksheet]

how to cut your content into bite-sized pieces

Short sentences are gospel truths when it comes to clear, concise writing.

In fact, no lesson about writing for the web is complete without the statement “use short sentences.”

And who is not going to use short sentences when they were cherished by Papa? Nobody. Because you don’t want Hemingway on your bad side.

Yet, instructions on how to actually write short sentences are in short supply. I aim to fix that today.

In this post, you’ll find six exercises that can help you write short, clear sentences that pack a punch — plus three tips on removing unnecessary words.

Don’t forget to download your free worksheet following the lesson. Have fun!
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Shakespeare’s 5 Rules for Making Up Words (to Get Attention)

Shakespeare's best word concoction tips

Advertising. Bloodstained. Cold-blooded. Epileptic. Fashionable. Hobnob. Moonbeam. New-fangled. Puking. Swagger. Worthless. Zany.

Those are just a sample of the many words William Shakespeare invented.

In fact, some say he invented somewhere between 1,700 and 2,200 words — possibly more. It’s no surprise the English language owes a massive debt to Shakespeare.

But Shakespeare doesn’t have a monopoly on inventing words. He wasn’t the first to do it, and he certainly wasn’t the last to create new words.

In fact, every year we introduce new words into the English language. Some fade out quickly, while others become part of the canon. Here are a few Oxford added to their online dictionary in 2015 alone:

  • Awesomesauce
  • Manspreading
  • Onboarding

But why make up words to use in your content marketing? Why not just stick with the ones we’ve got?

Good question. Fortunately, I’ve got an answer.
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Why the Ad Blocking Panic Shouldn’t Scare Smart Publishers

No ads? No problem

Let’s do a little thought experiment for a minute.

Imagine a life without The Awl, The Huffington Post, the New York Times, Drudge Report, The Onion, The Toast, The Verge, or Vox.

Without Brain Pickings, Slate, FiveThirtyEight, Pitchfork, The Paris Review, Mental Floss, Vice, xoJane, ProPublica, Quartz, Marc and Angel, or Grantland.

You get the idea; I want you to imagine a life without your favorite online publications. A digital content ghost town. Got it?

Now my question for you is this: would your life be better or worse without these publications?

And be honest …

It’s a question you have to answer since a future without these publications is quite possible. Let me explain.
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11 Insights on Finding a Writing Voice Readers Take Seriously [SlideShare]

11 famous authors help you find your writing voice

This is the trap we typically fall into online:

We survey the landscape, note what our contemporaries and competitors are doing, and do likewise. We might put a small spin on what we see, but we largely end up saying something mild and meaningless to avoid criticism. God forbid if we upset the applecart.

Poppycock. Online, you must upset the applecart. Particularly if your livelihood is on the line.

As my friend Joanna Wiebe said, the attention and sales go to the people who “say something of consequence.” That convinces people to take you seriously.

And I’m not talking about being sensational here. Don’t say something controversial for the sake of controversy.

Instead, dig deep during your research to uncover the hook — the one idea that takes a risk and stands out. The angle, words, or voice in your content marketing that make people take a second look. Even if it is shocking.

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The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern-Day Web Writer (Infographic)

High school was an era of my life I never really want to repeat. Not because it was a nightmare. Yes, there was a little turbulence, but mostly bewilderment and embarrassment.

  • Why do I have to read The Old Man and the Sea while my gym teacher sleeps behind a newspaper?
  • Why do I have to stand in the cold with other lackluster teenagers waiting for a bell to ring?
  • And why am I wearing a white leather jacket with padded shoulders?

To this day, I have no clue why they gave me a diploma:

Me: Did I do something to earn this?

High School: No. Just leave, please.

Hey, not a problem. Happy to oblige. Yet, there was at least one high point during my dim career in secondary school.

Biology class. Specifically, the anatomy portion of biology class.
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5 Powerful Ways to Keep Building Authority Once Your Content Has Matured

Mature content

You’ve launched. You now have loads of content on your blog. You’re happy with the growth and the traction you’ve gained. Your audience is growing — not as fast as you’d like, but you’re meeting goals.

Things are looking up because you’ve created authority with what seems to be a solid and loyal audience. But the rush of new content ideas is slowing, and enthusiasm (both yours and your audience’s) is cooling.

You’re worried about sustaining the momentum while deepening your authority and influence with your audience. And there’s a really good reason why this is a significant concern.
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