Ann Handley’s PANDA advice….

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post written by Ann Handley…

Ann Handley (pictured above), is a writer, digital marketer, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. She also blogs and a recent blog post of hers is well worth reading.

Under the headline,Vivid Writing,” she presented what she calls the P.A.N.D.A. Method for juicing up your writing. Here’s what PANDA stands for, taken directly from her post:

P is for Percentages/numbers in context

No: 14% of us believe robots will eventually rule the world.
Yes: 14% of us believe robots will eventually rule the world—that’s the entire population of the state of Texas, with a few counties in Oklahoma roped in.

A is for Analogies in context

Notice in that last sentence, not “a few Oklahoma counties included” but “a few counties in Oklahoma roped in.” Because “roped in” invokes cattle, the southwest, Texas, Oklahoma. The analogy is stronger for it.

N is for Name the thing

No: Dog
Yes: A black Lab named Otter

D is for Ditch weakling verbs
And sparingly use “thinking” verbs that happen internally (like Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, etc). Show, don’t tell.

A is for Accessible, simple language

No: Here is a hexad of cognitive content meriting distribution these septem of days.
Yes: Here are six things worth sharing this week.

I think Ann Handley is 100% right in all the points she highlights. My only quibble is that the acronym PANDA is a little hard to use. Good acronyms are memorable and easy to rebuild.

This one is hard to reconstruct because the categories each letter represents aren’t the same. We have three nouns (percentages, analogies, names), one verb (ditch), and one adjective (accessible.)

Still, it’s a relatively minor quibble, because PANDA, in itself, is highly memorable and her points are all right on.