One of the many books that should be on every copywriter’s bookshelf is On Writing by renowned author Stephen King. While recently re-reading my copy, I found a note I’d written in the margin.
“You can instill fear in your reader. But a writer should never feel fear.”
In the book, King talks about two examples of bad writing style — the passive voice and the excessive use of adverbs. He believes they should be avoided whenever possible. The reason many writers sometimes rely on them boils down to fear. And if Stephen King knows about anything, it’s fear.
Fear in the mind of the writer is at the root of most bad writing. Fear of not being taken seriously by the reader or a fear of being misunderstood or not heard.
Let’s look at two common writing styles that are examples of a writer’s fear.