Language Audit For Your Marketing Content

I love helping people fix their words, giving them the power to make their words stand out. I had the opportunity to do that last week for a woman who wanted guidance on how to improve the wording in her marketing emails. As I put together my recommendations for her, a lightbulb went on in my head – why not offer people a Language Audit.

This year I’ve been concentrating on my content training courses, but a course isn’t for everyone. Some people want to learn as they go, and my Language Audit service will give them the opportunity to do that. Basically, I’ll be their writer on top, who they can call on as they create their document for advice on how to add sparkle to the language in their documents.

How the Service Works

You can send me your documents as you create them, so you won’t lose momentum while you’re creating your marketing content. Or you can wait till you’re finished all your documents and send them in a batch before you release them to the world.

I will them draw up a few practical guidelines that you can act on straight away, to help you improve the wording of your documents. This isn’t an edit; it’s about helping you make changes yourself, so you can improve your writing skills and enhance the quality of all the content you create.

Ways to Improve your Language

The guidelines I give you take three forms. First, I’ll highlight ‘weed words’ for you to get rid of. These are words that are used so often that they’ve almost lost their meaning and they lessen the impact of your sentences. If you have too many adverbs or adverbs or too many crutch words like ‘actually,’ ‘obviously’ or ‘seems.’ I’ll flag that and you can weed them out, so your blooms will shine.

This is a pic of a purple weed, with thin leaves spreading outwards on a purple background.
Weeding Out Words: Watch out for words that weaken your language and pluck them out of your content.

I’ll then guide you on words that will strengthen your content, words that create vivid images and evoke colours, sounds and scents. I’ll also encourage you to use action words that convey a sense of purpose. For example, if you say ‘The photographs are taken by me,’ I’ll encourage you to change it to ‘I take the photographs.’ It immediately sounds more proactive.

Some people have problems cutting down the length of their content, because they’re so enthusiastic about what they want to say and they’re afraid their message won’t come across. I’ll highlight ways that they can be more concise. Often, it just means something simple, like cutting down the length of your sentences, or cutting out repeated words. You’d be amazed the difference these changes make.

Why Avail of a Language Audit

This is a great option for time poor people who’d rather learn on the go, and it’s also a budget-friendly way to avail of great content advice. The price of this language is €75 for 5,000 words You don’t have to worry how much content makes up 5,000 words. I’ll set up a tab for you and let me know when you’ve reached your limit. But you’ll usually be covered for all the marketing content you create.

I hope this Language Audit service will be of value to you – it’s an efficient and effective way of improving your writing skill. You can find out more about it by dropping me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

How To Stamp Out Weak Words In Your Stories

At the moment I’m having great fun reading two books by authors who are looking to publish – and being paid for it. What a dream job for a bookworm. But I’m reading the books with a professional eye, and when I’m finished, I’ll be compiling reader’s reports, which give recommendations that will help them take their books to the next level.

In these reports, I’ll comment on how their stories work, and I’ll always, always comment on their language. Often when people ask me for a professional critique, they can’t put their finger on what’s not working in their story. But it’s not always the story that’s the problem – it’s the words we use to tell our stories.

There are words that weaken our writing without us realising it, because these words are so commonly used in everyday language. These are words that are so overused that they’ve lost their meaning, or that don’t convey the precise meaning you’re trying to convey. Or they’re words that slow down the action too much.

Alt Text: This is a word cloud featuring multicoloured words arranged in a pattern. The words all feature in this blog post and are examples of weak words. If you'd like to know what the words are, contact derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie
This word cloud features the words that I will talk about in this post, including passive voice, crutch words and filter words.

I’m going to take you through some examples of these types of ‘weak’ words, so you can banish them forever – and make your story shine.

Adjectives and Adverbs

When people are beginning to write, they don’t trust that the words they choose will say what needs to be said. So, they load their writing with overly-descriptive adverbs and adjectives, such as ‘the big angry man shouted loudly.’ If this is you, try taking out every adjective and adverb in your story. Bet you’ll discover that the rest of the words will say exactly what you need them to say.

Crutch Words

There are words we use in our everyday conversation to prop ourselves up while we’re formulating our points, words like: really, actually, like, okay. But these words don’t translate into our writing. They dilute the meaning of our sentences. If you take them out, your sentences will be shorter and sharper, and readers will feel the full impact of your words.

Repeated Words

We all have favourite words, words that we’re very attached to, and we repeat those words endlessly throughout our story. These may be words we like the sound of, such as ‘quintessential, or pronouns, such as ‘I’ or even ‘It.’ Too much repetition gets annoying for readers, so we need to drop our attachment to these words, so that we give our readers a greater variety of vocabulary. You’d also be surprised how much your word count will tumble when you remove these repeated words.

Filter Words

When you’re learning to write, you feel as if you need to explain everything, so you use a lot of filter words. Filter words explain the action, usually through sensation, such as ‘He seemed calm’ or ‘I heard the train coming.’ That means what’s happening in the story is filtered through these words, so the readers feel distanced from the action. Readers will find it much more exciting to read that ‘the train was coming.’ They’ll hear the sound themselves; they don’t need to be told.

I can give you advice on how to weed out these pesky weak words and make your story sparkle. Have a browse on my website to find out about my Writing with Me service.

Active v Passive Voice

If you’re describing an action that takes place in a story, you need to tell readers who did it. That’s why you choose the active voice over the passive voice. With the passive voice, you say the treasure was stolen; you don’t specify who stole it. Sometimes you don’t know who stole it, and then it’s okay to use the passive voice. But if you choose the active voice and say ‘A thief stole the treasure,’ it immediately conveys a sense that something important is happening, and you’ll hook readers into your story.

He Had Done It

The tense you choose for describing the action in your story may also distance readers from the action. For example, you may be writing a flashback and say, ‘Jane had gone to Spain.’ This slows down the action too much; the use of ‘had’ may give a sense that this happened in the distant past. Stick with the present tense or the simple past tense for verbs. ‘Jane was in Spain’ or ‘Jane is in Spain.’ This gives more of a sense of immediacy. 

What weak words do you want to stamp out of your stories? Send me your thoughts via derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.