Improving Composition in Speech and Writing

[In response to questions about interview technique - expressing technically complex ideas, beating around the bush, speaking more concretely versus abstractly, etc.]

Another speaker was correct to highly "show more, tell less," and this is true in both speech and writing. Choosing what words go into a sentence, affects both the written (e.g. essay) and spoken (e.g. interview) components of a candidate's application. Malaysian students typically need a lot of practice in composition. If you find that you are concerned about how you are choosing which words go into a sentence:

Number 1. Please get a writing coach.

Number 2. Practice the hell out of it. You need to get a journal, or blog, or equivalent, and practice as often as you can. You need to get into the habit of writing, then revisiting what you have written at a later point in time, daily, weekly, whatever. In this sort of training, they say you have to "murder your darlings," you need to write a draft, delete it, rewrite, delete, write, delete, write delete... until it's perfect.

Number 3. If you're not sure how useful a word is: draw a long line, label it "very concrete," on one end, and "very abstract," on the other, then ask yourself where that word falls on the line. If it's anywhere near "very abstract," throw the word away. If you do this more, you'll find that you end up chucking out a lot of adjectives and adverbs, and keeping a lot of nouns and verbs.

It takes some practice, but you will get better at this "composition," thing.

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