Business writing and killer zombies

Readers want to know who is doing what.

They need humans and active verbs.

Without them your message withers and dies.

Nominalisations are often to blame – nouns made from other parts of speech that express complex ideas.

They trick unwary writers into killing off simple nouns and verbs and turn prose to sludge.

Here’s an example:

The proliferation of nominalisations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency towards pomposity and abstraction.

Wow. Did you get that?

Seven nominalisation (spot the -ity and -tions).

But the sentence fails to tell us who is doing what.

In her enlightening TEDx presentation, scholar and award-winning teacher Helen Sword explains how nominalisations squeeze the lifeblood from writing and what writers can do to reanimate their work.