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     Good Writing is Like a Paper Plane


          Good writing is . . .

                            simple . . . sleek . . . creative . . . fun . . .

                                                            . . . it soars like a paper airplane.

  1. Good writing isn't loaded down with unnecessary baggage.

A paper airplane has no storage bins or cargo bay.  A good paper plane is light, trim and sleek.  The same is true of good writing, especially business and promotional writing.  

Good writing is crafted with plain words and short, simple sentences.  Big words and extraneous adjectives are a nuisance.  Mark Twain advised, “When you catch an adjective, kill it.  No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them.  Then the rest will be valuable.”

In addition to writing, I have spent many years editing the writing of others.  Believe me, the single biggest difference between professional-level writing and amateurish writing is all the excess baggage the amateurs always bring onboard. 

Most writing can be dramatically improved by the ruthless application of a black felt pen.

Pack light!  Use every-day words.  Use simple sentences.  Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly (pick better nouns and verbs and you won’t need so many modifiers).  Eliminate redundancies.

  2. Good writing follows the rules.

There are some basic laws of physics that every paper plane has to follow.  You just can’t ignore the principles of lift, thrust, drag and weight and hope to get your plane off the ground.

Likewise, good writing begins with a mastery of the fundamentals.  We’re talking about spelling, punctuation and grammar.  A misspelled word is as big a turn-off as a fly in the soup.  A grammatical error distracts from your message like a ringing cell phone at the theater.

Good writers care enough to learn the rules.  Excellent writers follow them. 

  3. Good writing is creative.

All paper airplanes have certain fundamentals in common, but there is still plenty of room for creativity.  The world of paper planes includes the Dart, the Arrow, the Glider, the Bullet ... and about 10,000 other creative ways to fold a piece of paper and make it fly.

Writing that soars also requires creativity.  I'm NOT talking about glitzy, hokey, or silly -- but smart, clever, and compelling.  Good writing can and should be a lot of fun.  Like a paper plane.

*    *    *    *    *

Paper Plan Trivia

• Amazon.com offers more than 1,000 books on paper airplanes.

• The movie, “Paper Chase,” ends with the law student Hart taking his final report card, folding it into a paper airplane, and sailing it into the Atlantic Ocean – unopened.

• Takuo Toda of Japan holds the paper airplane world record.  His “Sky King” stayed aloft for 27.9 seconds on April 11, 2009, beating Ken Blackburn’s previous record of 27.6 seconds.

Takuo Toda, world record-holder 


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