Writing in a World Gone Mad: Writing in Cyberspace

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The writing world is changing. It almost sounds cliche, but it's true, nonetheless. Writing in cyberspace is no longer the laughing-stock of the publishing industry.

As a result the focus of the publishing industry has shifted from paper copy to online media. The Internet has revolutionized the printed page, producing readily available material for people all over the globe.

Because of this trend writers have found it necessary to adapt to the ever-changing publishing industry. But most writers have found the web holds its own publishing challenge: people don't read the Internet like they read a book or magazine.

They tend to let their attention slip more readily. As a result they only read pages that sound a peel of relevancy to that short attention span. This makes writing for the web a little more challenging.

The rules have changed, rocking the boat for the writer who desires to make a difference in this age of information. How must a writer adapt in this brave, new computerized world? What are the new rules for publishing in cyberspace?

Here are three rules that will keep the online author afloat in the ocean of online articles:

1. The Internet writer must produce crisp, simple statements. There's no need to wax eloquent in cyberspace. Online readers won't stand for it. They're looking for information, not flowery prose. They want simple ideas expressed in simple sentences.

Readability stands as the greatest giant to defeat for the Internet writer. He must first stifle his eloquent muse and then bang out clean, crisp copy. Nothing appeals more to the online reader than simplicity.

2. The Internet writer must sculpt short paragraphs. Two sentence paragraphs are adequate. Three are perfect. Four sentences begin to bulge an online paragraph's seams. Five will bust it wide open unless the sentences are very brief (as in this paragraph).

The point is the internet writer shouldn't try to produce monstrous paragraphs that gobble up her readers. She should carefully choose what's important and what isn't. Find the best and ditch the rest.

3. The Internet writer must communicate in an understandable way. This may seem obvious, but most writers miss the target entirely when writing copy for the web. This isn't a research paper. So formal language is a no-no.

Seventh grade English teachers may stare aghast at students who use contractions. Chances are the reader on the web will shout with joy at finding a website or blog that speaks her language, the same way she communicates.

So it's okay if the web writer uses "isn't" instead of "is not" or "Fred's" instead of "Fred is." Most people read the Internet as if it were their best friend, sitting across from them, sipping tea. People cruising the web want understandable conversation, not technical jargon.

If the Internet writer does his homework and follows these simple rules his transition to the age of cyberspace won't be as traumatizing as it has been for so many others. Simplicity and readability will shout his message for him. Change has never looked so simple.


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