Good business writing communicates. Great business writing gives readers something special: excitement, passion, big ideas, generosity, words and sentences that flow easily like water from the tap, magical combinations and surprises, exquisite precision.
The word suck offers nothing–no fireworks, no brilliance, no heart, no style.
Yet the word is appearing all over the Web:
–102 Ways to Make Your Blog Not Suck
–5 Reasons Committees Suck
–10 Reasons Why My Sites Suck
–Business Networking That Doesn’t Suck
I began thinking about the word suck this week when I clicked on a link to a professional event. The event was sponsored by a networking group whose tagline is "Business Networking That Doesn’t Suck." But does networking normally suck? I have never thought so. And if this networking group doesn’t "suck," what does it do? What makes it special?
It takes patience and effort to find the word that communicates perfectly. To me, suck is never that word.
Below I offer revisions of the "suck" titles, which I wrote without knowing the intent of the original writers. These rewrites took just a few minutes. Better writing would take longer.
–Six Things Designers Should Never Do
–102 Tips of the Best Blogs on Earth
–5 Ways Committees Suck Corporate Energy
–10 Reasons Why My Sites Don’t Sell
–Business Networking That Sizzles
A fine book on getting to the right word is Arthur Plotnik’s Spunk & Bite, published by Random House in 2005. His chapter titles indicate the book’s zesty language:
"How to Loot a Thesaurus" [Loot is a fine word, especially placed unexpectedly after "how to"]
"Words with Music and Sploosh" [Sploosh would wake any reader who’s nodding off]
"Intensifiers for the Feeble" [a happy juxtaposition: intense/feeble]
In Plotnick’s vivid chapter names, you will find not one suck. Even in the chapter "Edgy: Writing at the Nervy Limits" the word did not show up. Suck isn’t edgy–it’s vague and dull.
That’s my view of suck. Whether you are a defender or a foe of the word, I’d love to know what you think. Please comment.