David Ogilvy, also known as the father of advertising, strongly recommended the book Writing That Works. In it, Kenneth Roman provides advice that seeks to cut out a lot of the fluff inherent in most writing today.
The book provides a great deal of general advice, and then splits off into separate sections depending on the purpose of the writing (e.g. a cover letter, a memorandum requiring action, an e-mail etc). These sections then provide specific advice. Some overall themes include:
- use smaller words and sentences (jargon and rambling impresses no one, contrary to popular opinion)
- be clear and concise (in consideration of your audience who wants nothing more than to finish reading your communication)
It does seem, however, that Ogilvy's recommendation was not completely independent. There appear to be some links (i.e. "related-party transactions" for the investors out there) between the author of the book and Ogilvy's advertising agency. Still, I believe the principles espoused to be helpful with respect to improving one's writing. If you find that the quality of this blog improves from here on out (and how could it not, considering it's starting point!), you'll know to whom the credit is due.
By the way, I highly recommend Ogilvy's book, Ogilvy on Advertising.