How to make brutal writing

I pulled the title from a key phrase that appears in searches to my site again and again and again — which explains its poor grammar. So I figured that I’d give these people something that might be along the lines of what they’re looking for. Brutal writing.

Here are three ways you can make your writing brutal: ruthlessness, a strong vocabulary, and confidence.

Ruthlessness is something that I argue (regularly, online and in person) that every writer needs. I don’t care if you write copy for businesses or bureaucracy, or if you write namby-pamby content for overly sheltered children. You must be absolutely ruthless.

I recall writing a blog about this type of thing back in the Brascoe Publishing days, titled something like On Killing Your Darlings. If you cannot be completely ruthless with what you write, in terms of cutting superfluous words, sticking to the point, and bringing your text alive, then you shouldn’t be writing.

Even as a fiction writer, and as a fiction editor, I am not one to soften the blow of what I’m doing. If you’re writing fiction, everything you do has to serve your purpose and your story (and your characters).

Get rid of flowery descriptions, and too many adjectives because both are sickening. Don’t meander, and use your characters’ action to explain (in most cases, better than your descriptions) what is going on.

In business writing, you have to be ruthless to the point where you feel brutal as well. Cut out anything that doesn’t serve your purpose or your audience. And I mean anything.

If you have a blog article about a knotty issue, for example, pick one part of that issue and write one article on it. Split the issue into as many articles as it takes: 3, 6, 10…

A strong vocabulary is vital, in all types of writing. It needs to be reasonably well developed, and you have to know how to use it. I’m not talking here about offensive words (though in my off-time I am a big fan of some of them), but words and phrases that fit what you are doing.

A good vocabulary will enable you to write any type of character you desire, in fiction; and it will give you the ability to write to any type of consumer, in business.

How do you strengthen your vocabulary? First: Use it! Second: Read as much as you can, preferably material that isn’t just trash, and that is going challenge you at least a little bit.

Confidence in writing, as in any other part of your life, is essential. People love confidence. A confident writer will draw readers in — regardless of genre.

If you write confidently about what you know — or even about what you don’t know! — your personality will shine through. Your writer’s ‘voice’ will get stronger.

While people go on about the types of books their favourite authors write, what they are actually drawn to is a style and a voice within a genre. It’s not hard to develop, you just have to do it and think ‘to hell with everybody else’.

Get in touch with me if you’d like to talk about bringing my own Brutal Pixie style into your world, and how it can help you.