Tag Archives: Expressive writing

3 ways to give numbers the context they need

Can you picture almost 80 million litres? Probably not. It’s a huge number, too big to understand without context. A client wants employees to understand the importance of managing energy like diesel fuel. To make the 80 million litres the company used in 2017 more relatable, he used the fuel economy of his VW TDI […]

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Short attention span? Time for expressive writing

Never mind the famous thought that people have a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish. (Who measured the goldfish anyway, and how?) People pay attention when they are interested, or when it’s in their best interest. So if you’re producing articles, web copy, blog posts, marketing material and other writing, you need to […]

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Madness ‘like a fault line’ and more expressive writing

Do you want to explain something, make a point or reflect or spark emotion? Reach for what I call expressive language, which shows rather than tells. I’m always on the lookout for examples, and here are some appealing ones: “Catherine was his California – she was his sunlight and wine and blue ocean – but […]

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Finding the human side of academic research

(Updated Aug. 29, 2017) Readers appreciate when the writer does the heavy lifting to explain the complex and figure out “what’s in it for me?” That’s a big part of what I do. In 2016 and 2017, I had the honour of interviewing brainy researchers at Western University’s Faculty of Science. My assignment was to […]

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Take the dull out of digits

Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) launched an exhibit this week that explores the story of nine rare blue whales that became stranded in thick ice and died. The ROM recovered two of the skeletons after the creatures washed ashore in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2014. Blue whales are massive, but even before you get to […]

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Use expressive writing to explain complex ideas

Humans are funny creatures. We’ll binge-watch hours of TV episodes or movies, yet barely tolerate a fraction of a second for a web page to load. That means you need a shortcut to meaning if you’re explaining something complex or unusual. Seth Godin says the best way to convey a complex idea is to “find […]

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The ‘word casserole’ that is Trump’s speaking style

On the eve of the U.S. election, even those of us up here in Canada are biting our nails. For a bit of diversion, here are some wonderful additions to my collection of expressive writing. In “Trump’s Tower of Babble,” talking about “the accidental brilliance” of Donald Trump’s speaking style, Slate‘s words correspondent Katy Waldman […]

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Rhyme and rhythm: Musicians know how to write

If you’re looking for writing inspiration, here’s an idea: Turn up the tunes! Musicians do a masterful job of touching our hearts and souls, and sometimes our funnybones, too. Artists tell stories using many of the more traditional writer’s tools for expressive writing, such as metaphors and similes. One that always sticks in my head […]

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3 ways to spark interest with expressive writing

Have you ever been urged to “show, don’t tell” in your writing? Then you want to think about expressive writing. For a compelling example of the power of language, take a look at this fascinating piece about earthquakes by journalist Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker. This is just one of many, many places where […]

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Show some love for neglected expressive words

What knavery is this? With so many words at our disposal, we’re ditching some perfectly delightful and expressive words. Wayne State University, for one, is having none of it. Each year, the university’s Word Warriors column lists the top 10 words “that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose,” drawing attention to […]

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