Effective Writing from Larry McEnerny

Posted 1 month ago | Originally written on 29 Jan 2024

If you have not watched this inimitable talk on writing then you must see it here and another version here.


  1. The quality of writing is in the eye of the reader. There is no such things as good writing objectively.
  2. Ensure that there is a consistency in the subjects of your sentences with what you want the reader to pay attention to. You want to make sure that the subjects of your sentences always point to what you want the reader to pay attention to. This is essential because it defines how you should structure your sentences e.g. active vs. passive.
  3. Your readers don't trust you. They have no obligation to read your work. Therefore, you must provide signals throughout the text that shows them the value of what you have written.
  4. Use signaling words like 'Nevertheless', 'although', etc. to direct your reader to the flow of ideas.
  5. Your writing should be founded on strong arguments, not on a mere explication of facts. Your readers do not care about the content of your head.
  6. Build on what the reader is already (or should be) familiar with and show how, for your topic of interest, there is a tension that you will resolve in the course of your work. This comes down to telling the reader that his view of the world is 'wrong' but in subtle terms with reason.
  7. Your goal is to change your readers view of the world not to reveal what you know or understand.
  8. You do not have to explain anything. Rely on signals more than explanations.