One of your most important goals is communicating effectively with your readers

Years ago, when I studied journalism, instructors taught us to aim our writing at eighth-graders—that is, to write in a way eighth-grade students could easily understand.

Recently I saw the same advice so it must still be the best practice.

What’s true for journalists is true for memoirists: Aim at an eighth-grade audience

Ken Follett, Welsh author, says his goal is to make his prose “utterly easy to understand.” He calls it “transparent prose

I’ve failed dreadfully,” Follet says, “if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant

You know what Follett means. You have had the unpleasant experience of reading a sentence or a paragraph two or three times before you could figure out the writer’s message. Don’t be that kind of writer!

Write clearlyConciselyTransparentlySimply

Shane Snow says it this way: “We shouldn’t discount simple writing, but instead embrace it. . . .

“We should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible.

“We won’t lose credibility in doing so,” Shane says. “Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people

Look over your manuscript. Read it aloud, listening for words or sentences or paragraphs that could confuse readers.

Rewrite them, reducing complexity and confusion. Make your writing easy to understand. Write transparentlyYour readers will thank you

Come back next week. We’ll look at additional ways to write your memoir with clarity