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5 Handy Helpful Writing Hacks To Make Your Words Shine

Whether it’s emails, reviews, or photo captions, we’re always writing something. Do you ever wish that your writing sounded a little more polished? While some aspects take time to finesse, other parts are easy to break down. Got five minutes? Read through our top tricks for taking your writing to the next level. You can make your words shine with minimal effort — and who wouldn’t want that?

Mind The All Caps In Your Writing

Sure, the internet’s full of SHOUTY TYPES but if you want to place emphasis on something you love, there are other ways to do so than hitting caps lock in your writing. (Save that for acronyms and emergency “I’m TRAPPED in a BATHROOM” texts to your BFF.) Wanna call out highlights in your reviews? A pros and cons list makes for helpful reader reference, but waxing lyrical on the details helps people truly picture the experience. Which bits stood out for you? How would you describe it to your friends? Check out Huey N’s review of WesBurger ‘N’ More for inspo:

“The Nashville hot chicken sandwich is glorious. Chili oil is lathered all over the chicken, but the pickles cut through the grease and slaw subdues the creeping heat.”

Image of WesBurger 'N' More Southern Fried Chicken
WesBurger ‘N’ More Southern Fried Chicken

Geeky, Nerdy Writing Bit

In the days of letterpress, two drawers housed all the characters used in print. Employing all caps literally required reaching for the upper case section; capital letters were stored above the lowercase precisely because they were less commonly used. So, why “capital”? Because, Old French. Capital, as in “head”, ergo “chief”, ergo “capital city”, ergo “capital letter”. Geddit?

Super Not Superlative

Let’s get real. Was that burger really the best thing you ever ate, ever ever ever? Sure, there are probably a few life-changing edibles out there, but if everything is the best, nothing is best, right? Describing the textures, flavors, and ambiance helps folks understand experiences a lot better, so don’t be afraid to get into the nitty gritty.

“I loved the crab croquetas! Warm and mushy on the inside, lightly crisp texture on the outside and sweet, sticky sauce provided as a surrounding!” — Tiffany D, Loló

Image of Crab Croquetas by Loló
Crab Croquetas by Loló

Geeky, Nerdy Writing Bit

If you want to get archaic, you’d call “best” the “bettermost”, which sounds better than most superlatives, if you ask us. Adding that little suffix “-est” to the end of your adjectives (fastest, greatest, tastiest) is what makes them the utmost bettermost-est, but it’s kinda lazy — we throw around “best” far too much these days. Words like “awe-inspiring” and “overwhelming” conjure more of a picture, since their etymology is entrenched with feelings so great and perilous that we had to pin them to the good and the bad. A formidable technique, no? Even the kids are doing it. Sick!

Contrast And Compare

Do you want your writing to stand out or fall flat? Here’s how it is, in black and white: Nothing gives your words more pop, like an arrow through an apple, than a good bit of contrast. Think about design: We’re hardwired to see difference — a survival technique left over from evolution — and the same principle applies here.

“It’s everything a salted caramel should be: buttery caramel, and you can actually taste the salt (you can even crunch on them sometimes). It really is the perfect balance of sweet and salty.” — Faye S, Recchuiti Confections at the Ferry Building

Whiskey pairing collection by Recchiuti Confections at the Ferry Building
Whiskey pairing collection by Recchiuti Confections at the Ferry Building, Winnie L

Geeky, Nerdy Writing Bit

Declaring that “it’s us or them” is a much easier concept to digest than “it’s those people, those other ones, the ones over there, and then those on the outskirts.” This rhetorical strategy is an age-old persuasion technique used in everything from political speeches to characters in your favorite TV show. So, ask not what your writing can do for you, but what you can do for your writing.

Don’t Filler Up Your Writing

Basically, we just really feel that you should kind of, like, y’know, be able to share your opinions in their, sort of, full glory. Right? Literally. Writing in your own voice is important but editing is your best friend. Removing filler is an easy way give your words more oomph. “Word padding” absorbs the emphasis of your writing and makes for a laborious read! Here are five common “crutch” words:

  1. Just
  2. Really
  3. Sort of/kind of
  4. I think/believe/feel
  5. Honestly

Geeky, Nerdy Writing Bit

It’s no surprise that we lean on filler words when we speak — talking in the moment is pretty different than talking on the page. Filler helps listeners understand when we’re pausing to think, but haven’t quite finished, even if it’s just an “erm”. The smallest unit of speech is called an “utterance”, and every single language has a variety. Valleyspeak? It’s everywhere: versions of “like” are used for filler in Hebrew, Finnish, Russian, and more!

Dress It Up

If you’re struggling to explain quite how that pizza really blew your mind but not your lunch budget, try a simile. For example, the pizza was like a Vaseline massage from Arnold Schwarzenegger — cheesy, weirdly comforting, and just the right-but-wrong amount of greasy…. Want a better example? Here’s Michael C’s thoughts on Bar Crudo:

“The Artic char was my personal favorite. It was topped with Wasabi Tobiko, which were like fireworks in your mouth. These little balls would just keep exploding as I chewed on them.”

Image of Drakes bay pacific oysters at Bar Crudo
Drakes bay pacific oysters at Bar Crudo by Laura Z

Geeky, Nerdy Writing Bit

A simile is a literary device that describes something by comparison, using “like” or “as”; it’s a way to show, and not tell, what you’re talking about. In poetry, similes are often used to describe the abstract — like love — in order to create a more concrete picture. Sure, we could talk Shakespeare since his similes are pretty famous, but you’ll probably enjoy these lyrics little more:

“You’re like my favorite damn disease.” Figured You Out, Nickelback

Erm… sure.

“I love you like a love song.” Love You Like A Love Song, Selena Gomez & The Scene

Meta! 

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, hoping to start again?” Plastic Bag, Katy Perry

Bags have hopes and dreams too.