Simple Steps to Powerful Writing Your success in today's world is directly tied to your ability to communicate. If you cannot write effectively you will not succeed. This is true in academics, business and your personal life. The following proven steps will make your writing vibrant and make you a more effective communicator. 1. Use the active voice. The active voice is the most powerful way to express an idea. The passive voice lacks the power and clarity of the active voice. Sentences that are structured as "subject, verb, object" focus the reader's attention and cogently convey your message. 2. Use active words. Word choice is critical. Always choose words that create a vivid image. Active words grab the reader's attention and hold onto it. Active words make your writing come alive. Almost every word has a more powerful and energetic synonym and that's the word you should use. For example, the word "think" could be replaced with "ruminate," "deliberate," "ponder," and so on. Each of these words creates a much stronger picture in the imagination of the reader. 3. Use short sentences. Short sentences focus the reader's attention. Even the most complex idea can be expressed in a concise manner. Words are valuable; don't throw them away. A general rule is to keep your sentences to a maximum of twenty-five words. Sentences longer than twenty-five words won't keep your readers interested. One long sentence can always be broken into two (or more) shorter ones. I was once an editor of a graduate school journal. My duties included reviewing submissions for publication. One article had numerous meandering sentences, including one that was 103 words long. It rambled in so many different directions I could not penetrate what the writer intended to convey, despite several readings. The author may have had an original and important thought. However, because the writing was poorly structured, whatever knowledge I could have gleaned was lost. Don't try to demonstrate how smart you are by drafting long, convoluted sentences. Prove your intelligence by clearly conveying your information. A reader should not feel like they are on a treasure hunt, searching for meaning in your writing. Make it easy for the reader to understand your point. Short sentences are a great way to vibrantly educate your audience. 4. Know your audience and your purpose. Understanding who will read your work and why empowers you to craft your words precisely. Jargon is an asset if the reader understands it, but is a hindrance if he does not. Don't waste energy including unnecessary information. If your audience should know what a term means, you don't need explain it. If people of varying backgrounds may read your work, assume no one knows the meaning of jargon and use more commonplace words. This guarantees your article will be understood by all. 5. Proofread your work. This point cannot be overemphasized. You must review your work. Nothing emasculates good writing more quickly than obvious misspellings and typographical errors. I recently received a free ebook from a writer. The book was informative but after the first few pages I was distracted by some blatant errors. I was so befuddled that the quality of the information was diluted. Even though the product was free, I resented the fact that the writer did not consider my time worthy of her proofreading the book. Use spell check as a step in your creative process. Some email programs can be configured to check spelling and grammar prior to sending mail. One mouse click to check spelling and grammar will save you embarrassment and make you more successful. By following these steps you will improve the quality of your writing and communication. This will create positive results, from better grades to better job performance to increased personal satisfaction. Walter Jenkins is a professional writer and speaker. He is also a former attorney and sports agent. He lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and enjoys spending time with his daughter. In his spare time he scuba dives and studies tae kwon do.