T Nation

My Writing Style


#1

(yes, for bb'ing forum)

Serious question:

Would it be better if I cleaned up my writing style in bb'ing forum posts?

There doesn't seem to be an issue in Supplements forum posts. Likely it is because of the subject matter. Direct answers are generally suitable, and usually it is not necessary to have various qualifiers or to include parenthetical thoughts.

Same pretty much for Steroid forum posts.

However, in bb'ing there are qualifying factors all the time, and while many things can be satisfactorily said with simple statements that are left at that, very many times leaving statements at that will omit things that can be of key importance.

In fact, I expect that many times the most useful parts of my posts probably are the qualifiers and parenthetical thoughts. The content of the simple statements in most cases probably has been read before many times before in many places. So simply getting rid of these aspects of the posts is not I think the best solution. It would be possible however to present them in a better-written way.

When writing professionally, I work hard to keep sentences short, to minimize word count, and to minimize my chronic use of parenthetical statements. Doing a really good job of this is very time consuming and, frankly, it ain't gonna happen on forum posts. On these, I tend to write almost exactly as I speak, which is much easier when turning out a lot of writing.

But if my posts really are problematic for many to read, I could spend an extra several minutes per post tightening them up. Though if multiplying by very many posts per day, which sometimes is the case, that adds up to quite a bit, so it's not trivial.

Do many see a real need for that? Serious question. Thanks.


#2

I used to write as if I was talking to a room filled with physicians. Lay people on internet forums like this because it makes them feel really bright even if they don't understand everything.
The problem is they don't understand everything and while they may act like this is great advice, it really wasn't getting through to people or making any difference.

Once I began writing like I speak the words became much more effective. I have personally always held the opinion that if someone truly can not put a concept into simple terms easily understood by most, then they really don't understand the concept very well themselves.

I see some authors doing this at times....choosing to act like they are explaining a scientific study to a room filled with hospital staff. Their followers eat that shit up. Hell, some of them even bust onto other internet forums and degrade supplements that aren't even out yet while standing up for some poorly understood (and poorly constructed) study when they truly don't have any educational background in that area at all.

Speaking in scientific jargon is most effective when speaking to people who speak that way daily. It is least effective with everyone else aside from the creation of lemmings who think they can be smart too by latching onto someone who speaks this way...whether they have a clue or not.


#3

I do know that a professor who was an excellent teacher in writing would tell me that my bb'ing forum posts are unreadable for the average person, based simply on average word length of sentences.

Yet many people tell me that my explanations of difficult concepts are very clear.

It would be a shame if explanations that otherwise would be clear are sabotaged by something so simple as overly-long sentences.

Shortening sentences is one of the things I do in clean-up. I'm unable to write that way in the first place though unless writing at far less than my typing speed, because my natural thoughts are in long sentences. Not that this is a good thing: it is a simply a personal oddity.


#4

No offense intended, but you need to understand your audience. Just going back and forth with many here should let you know what you are dealing with. I doubt, from the responses, that most of these people are even out of college. Even less have any formal education at all that has anything to do with science.

Most of these people are just average people who for some reason believe that some extreme attention to details they really don't understand is how they make progress. In other words, most ignore the basics (the things that will ensure their success) because they feel they are too "smart" for that and flashy new program promises to hold their hand so they can feel smarter than every big guy in the gym.

The reality is, they are too lazy for that because the basics mean really hard work for years without the complaining we see here (like the "I don't feel hungry so I don't eat" posts as they continue to not make progress yet can't figure out why).


#5

You could adopt car-advertisement style, where you have a short simple paragraph followed by a mile of fine text?

I actually have no useful suggestions. I enjoy reading your posts, and it's more important that you post at all, and don't wreck your professional writing, than to ensure that you don't leave any modifiers dangling on a frickin' forum post. Let's hug it out, bro (no homo).


#6

Bill, I don't see any problem with the way you post. I can't recall ever having a problem reading any of them and your point is always clear.


#7

Agreed.

Language is about communication. Therefore the most effective use of language is that which the most % of readers/listeners can understand what you are trying to say.

If the reader doesn't understand the words you're using, then it doesn't matter how big or fancy the words that you're using are or how valuable the content. You could be explaining the secrets of the universe, but if you're speaking in swahili to a room full of Russian speakers, then you're just wasting your breath.


#8

My first thought on seeing that I could adopt car-advertisement style was that my posts could read,

HEAD ON DOWN TO THE T-MAG STORE! GREAT BUYS ON KILLER PRODUCTS! YOU NEED 50 LBS MUSCLE? YOU HAVE 50 DAYS? IF YOU HAVE 50 DOLLARS, THEN NO PROBLEM!!!! WE'LL HOOK YOU UP T-MAN STYLE!!!!!"

The sentences would be shorter and snappier anyway! :slight_smile:


#9

...and in the end, people remember who made them look at themselves and question their own thoughts and actions. They will pay respects, however, to whomever made them feel like they are right to begin with. Telling people what they want to hear is extremely effective. It all depends on the goals of the speaker.


#10

IMO, if I'm tired, I skip your posts because I have to think 99 times out of 100 when I read them. I just come back to them in the morning or later when my brain feels like working.

There are a couple of you guys around here that I have to look up words to understand WTF your saying. I like that when I'm in the mood, when I'm not, I come back to it...


#11

sometimes Bill your writing style confuses me. Not sure what it is however.


#12

And it's not that the words used are too big or I don't understand them, it's the make-up (syntax perhaps, could be way off on the word here), of your sentences. Just don't flow well sometimes.

they say the average person reads on a 6th grade level (I'm at least 7th grade :wink: ), but that's how I tend to write in order to make sense to just about everyone.


#13

I like your writing style Bill

it's unique on here and rambling is always good


#14

This.

I guess most of us are used to writing as we would talk in a casual setting

Although I can follow what you say, sometimes I do have to re-read it just because of the structure which is something I'm not used to


#15

Fuck You!!!!!!!!!
I can comprehend just fine thank you very much. Non-Edit beats Edit style there's no reason to spend the next 10 years creating huge post just to edit it later on. You just can create a quality post just by slowly planning out your words, and keeping it simple from the start.

That way when your finally prepared for everyone to see it you just have one or two sentences to punctuate and your good to go. Besides you think sharpest when your under 10 sentences per minute.

I mean really, it just doesn't fucking work.
Do you really want to address every issue in the world in every post? when you can address one issue at a time. When you put a million issues in one post it gets discombobulated versus completely addressing the issue at hand then moving on to the next one.


#16

Thanks all.

From your responses and other past constructive comments, it does seem I should take the extra few minutes per post, where needed, to clean it up. I was reluctant to do so out of sheer laziness I guess and wanted to see if maybe it was only 1 or 2 that found problems. Clearly it's more than that, and since I do know how to do better in this regard, I ought to.

Thanks also for the positive comments.

Jehovas, I would guess it is the often-extreme sentence length and the extremely frequent parenthetical thoughts that create the problem. There's no doubt that shorter sentences are better, where possible, and parenthetical thoughts are best expressed separately. I just don't think that way on the fly, and so when writing as fast as I type, it doesn't come out that way.

I can see though that I ought to correct that. Thanks particularly to Professor X who has gently pointed this out several times where I was exceptionally unclear in the writing. I've been lazy and I guess needed further confirmation to actually correct this.


#17

However, no thanks are given to the "Fuck you" guy.

If you think I have time to write out posts slowly instead of about as fast as I can type, which is pretty fast, you are mistaken. I would not post at all under those circumstances. Adding a couple of minutes to edit, if necessary, after the initial writing is one thing, but planning the post out or composing slowly are things I do not have time for.

There was also no insult to anyone in my saying that my posts can be hard to read. It is a matter of proven fact that very long sentences are an impediment to readers, including highly educated ones.

Suggested solution for the "fuck you" guy: Add me to your ignore list. Your problem of my, in your opinion, including too much per post is then solved.


#18

Please don't dumb down your posts Bill.

Thanks.


#19

Just conversationally, on the "fuck you" guy's theory of how I ought to write:

How I actually write is for the most part quite different than that. For any that have seen "The Mask," it is rather like the lady cop in the scene where the SWAT team sings and dances along with the Cuban Pete song.

In other words, most times I don't know myself what I am going to either write or say unil it is either said or typed out. I experience the thought at the same time as producing the words. I have a non-verbalized general idea beforehand, but as for consciously planning words before they are written, nope.

It's a different story when spending 30-40 hours or more to write a 3000-4000 word article, but that is an entirely different process that is not realistic for forum posts.

I hadn't seen SkyNett's post when writing the above. I don't mean dumbing down, but cleaning up with, when needed, some substantial rewriting. What is said in extremely long sentences can invariably be better said when divided into sentences of more reasonable length.


#20

Well done.