We are talking force here—the force that gets writing devoured, felt, remembered, and published. Lacking it, the world’s most crafted content fizzles at the first neuron.
Force in writing needn’t always be nuclear strength, any more than nonverbal cues have to be violent or clangorous to seize attention. Think of a despairing glance that pierces the heart, or a sound-squelching image like Scott Spencer’s “botanical silence.” But to overcome a reader’s natural resistance to static, sameness, and irrelevance, written words must somehow deliver the Godfather imperative: This is a message you cannot refuse.
The ways of such force are legion, ranging from over-the-top exaggeration to sly understatement. Classical rhetoricians described these techniques by the hundreds. Writing programs pound away at a standard few, such as amped-up verbs and pared-down verbiage. I would include these among the “knee-breakers” I’ve found most persuasive in overcoming reader resistance. Here I offer you an even dozen. You cannot refuse them: I know where you writers live.