Writing for Clarity – No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Writing for Clarity

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In university, you are taught to write essays that are well balanced. You need to present both sides of the issue without bias. If your paper happens to be biased in the same way as your professor that will be okay. They won’t even notice. I know. I wrote biased papers when I knew the prof’s bias and got high marks.

When you write in the real world, most paid writing requires a bias. Conservative magazines want a conservative slant. Liberal want liberal. Feminist want feminist. Ecological mags need you to be certain of global warming. You get the picture.

Unless you’re guest blogging, you’re not forced to take a side. Well balanced articles may be the result. There are good reasons you may not want to write balanced articles.

Each Article Should Present One Idea

To achieve balance, you will often need to present two conflicting ideas. You write a good article, see that it’s biased, and continue by presenting the other side of the story. You destroy the potential conflict from readers who would pick an opposing side. For example, in the nature versus nurture debate it is well known that it’s a bit of both that makes up who we are. You can find academics who will strongly support one side or the other.

Picking a side creates conflict and gets some debate going. Balancing the debate mutes the conflict and creates a dull article.

Each article should present one idea. Each side of the debate is one idea. An explanation of the debate is also an idea. That’s three ideas in your balanced article. Why not break it down into those three articles?

Balanced Articles Run Long

Both sides of the story take twice as long to explain as only one side. Most readers are in a hurry. Present your preferred side of the story and leave the other side alone. Those who feel the other side of the story is the better one will tell you in the comments if they’re serious about it.

Make your writing clearer by limiting the breadth of your topic. Your readers aren’t going to be wondering which side of the issue you’re talking about.

Biased Articles Stimulate Discussion and Controversy

As I already mentioned, picking a bias will prod some of your readers to leave comments disputing your view. Nothing wrong with that. It shows your articles are being read.

To summarize, by picking a side you avoid ifs, ands, and buts. You simplify what you write and your articles become clearer. What more could you want?


Article by Ivan Izo.

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