Monday, June 30, 2014

A clear piece of political writing

I select many of my examples of unclear writing from political writing. Here’s why:

Most political writers prefer long words to short words, arcane words to common words, long sentences to short sentences, and circumlocutions to straightforward language. They also favor passive voice to active voice, uninhabited clauses to inhabited clauses, and abstract examples (or no examples) to concrete examples. Usually they are careless with their sentence structure, the organization of their paragraphs, and the flow of their entire text.

These vices make their writing difficult to read and understand.

Today I show you the opposite: a political article that is relatively easy to read and understand: “Just Another Narrative About Privilege,” by Rosslyn Smith. She has not done a perfect job (who does?) but she has taken pains to make her article readable and clear.

For the record, the article is 1,001 words long and its Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) score is 44.9, which is approximately as readable as The Wall Street Journal.

I do not know or care whether the article is accurate or inaccurate, or even whether it is honest or dishonest; I am interested in the article only as an example of fairly good writing.

The Takeaway: Whatever your opinions on class and politics may be, temporarily turn off the political part of your mind (important) and just the read the article for its diction. If you have the time, read it twice. This kind of exercise helps you improve your writing.

See disclaimer.

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