Readable Writing Rule #12: Accentuate the Positive

Can you? Of course you can!

What tone should you use when writing self-help books for the popular press?

Upbeat and positive. Always.

Readers want to know what works

They want to know what you prefer, not what you hate. They want to know what they should do. And they want to know that your idea is going to help them.

That’s why you should emphasize the positive, in word, phrase and general tone.

For example, don’t say, “Every diet that has hit the market since diets were invented is a fraud, except mine.” That’s negative. Put the reader in a positive, more receptive frame of mind by saying: “My diet is clinically proven to melt the pounds away.”

Don’t waste time telling the reader how rotten, worthless and crooked everyone else is. Tell them how good you are. Say, “My approach gets results by emphasizing the behavioral aspects,” instead of “Everyone else fails because they don’t know what I know about the behavioral aspects.”

Say, “This was the only study approved by peer review,” instead of “Every other researcher faked the results and ought to be thrown in jail.”

Say, “Scientists now agree that meditation is as effective as, and less expensive then, psychiatry,” instead of “Psychiatry is a bunch of bull. It never helped anyone but the greedy doctors who refuse to admit that meditation is better and cheaper.”

Say, “This book goes beyond stress management to…” instead of “This book goes beyond stress management, ‘the very hip buzz phrase’ of the century.”

Readers looking for help don’t want sourpuss writing!

Yes, sometimes you have to point out what’s wrong with the other ideas, programs, diets, etc.

But in general, be positive. Inspire your readers.

For more ways to make your writing sparkle, see “Readable Writing Review: “Write in Regular Old English.”

I’m Barry Fox, a New York Times #1 bestselling ghostwriter. I help executives, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and top professionals create top-notch memoirs and business books. I can also guide you through the self-publishing process. Call me at 818-917-5362.