July 6, 2019 6 min to read
The 5 Minutes It Takes To Read These 11 Tips Can Improve Your Writing Tremendously
Category : Writing Tips
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it is good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
Writing holds equal power as spoken words as it leaves the matter open for thinking, discussion and revision. It is important to understand and use the power of writing to its full potential so you are able to make the maximum impact. The following 11 tips can aid you to write better.
Start with a bang!
Your readers will only continue to read ahead if your start is interesting enough. This will obviously depend on your overall purpose of writing. Some suggested approaches are opening with a joke, a question, a quote, a fact or a short and relevant story. Humor is a great way to hook reader’s attention. A smiling reader is more likely to enjoy reading the rest of your writing. Similarly a question can poke the reader’s curiosity so they continue reading in search of their answers. A fact adds to the credibility of your argument so you have the reader’s attention and support from the very beginning. Lastly a short story is always a good choice when it will help build the interest in your topic or set the direction of writing.
Know your purpose
It is very important for the writer to know why they are writing. Writing can have several purposes like persuasive, argumentative, reflective, etc. As a writer one should know what their words are supposed to do to their audience. If you are well aware of how your readers are supposed to feel by the end of your writing, you will be able to choose better words.
Use passive verbs only when needed
Passive verbs are also known as linking verbs that emphasise the main verb in a sentence whilst the subject can remain unimportant. They are used widely in writing and form an inevitable part of some forms of writing such as scientific writing, historical writing, etc. However they are often overused when writers can be inattentive to their presence. They reduce the personal touch of the subject as the passive tones primarily focus on the action. Consider the following example.
Passive: A brownie is being baked by Sarah.
Active: Sarah is baking a brownie.
The switch to active tone involves more focus on the subject which is ‘Sarah’ whereas in the passive tone the focus was more on the action and the object which were ‘being baked’ and ‘brownie’ respectively.
As a writer you should create synergy in your writing. Take the audience along as you write. The writing structure must be coherent. There is a strong chance that the reader will abandon to read when they feel the writing is out of place. Loopholes in plotlines, unrelated paragraphs and unexplained statements will make the audience perceive that the writer thinks they are stupid. To make sure that they are no lose ends or unanswered questions, it is essential that you keep reading your work as you move forward and maintain the flow.
Use good vocabulary
Many people often confuse using good vocabulary with using heavy fancy words that an average reader will have to look up probably. As a writer you should make the reader’s job easier to understand your message instead of bombarding them with confusing words. Good vocabulary here refers to appropriate, easy-to-understand yet impactful words that create a good sentence. Look at the following sentence
‘Her siege of illness left her languid and pallid’
Although the meaning of the sentence above can be understood through the context but the vocabulary seems forced. A simpler and better way to communicate the same can be as below
‘Her illness left her looking weak and pale’
Here is an interesting resource on the use of Synonyms 50 Ways to Avoid Using the Word VERY
Avoid using fluff words
Fluff words add unnecessary length to your writing without adding any meaning. Some popularly used ones are very, little and rather. They can be not only distracting but also annoying if used frequently. Look at the example below
‘English is a very important language that you should basically know to rather not face any difficulty.’
The sentence sounds better when it is written as following
‘English is an important language that you should know to avoid any difficulties’
Use shorter paragraphs
Human brain retains and processes information faster when it is broken down into smaller pieces. Use short paragraphs while you write. A paragraph has many sentences but all of them revolve around a single idea. Frame your paragraph on a single point and construct relevant sentences. In more professional writing the paragraphs can be several sentences long but in personal writing a mere sentence can count as one paragraph as well.
Whatever you are writing about needs to be well researched. Take down notes regarding your subject. Pay attention to details. When you do not have matter to elaborate on, you often end up writing meaningless sentences that do not add any real value to your piece of writing. They only add unnecessary length and can end up annoying your audience. Read widely. Use internet to your advantage. Look up referenced work.
Write a first draft
It is advisable to write a first draft before you start writing the final piece. The draft helps to make the task easier and faster. When all your thoughts are on paper in front of you it is easier to assemble them in correct order and make the necessary changes where required. It also helps you to assess the weaknesses and strength of your writing.
Good writing needs rigorous editing. Read your work carefully to see if the transitions are sooth, the evidence backs up your statements, the argument is rational and the writing is smooth. It is important to understand that your audience may not be familiar with the topic like you are. In such case you should look for terms that may need further explanation or ideas that need to be elaborated upon more. Moreover a uniform tone needs to be adopted. Switching between informal and formal tone will give a poor style to your work. Lastly make sure that citations are in place. If you have used quotes, references from previous works on the subject, facts and figures then always remember to cite your sources.
Grammatical and spelling errors
Proofreading is always necessary. It will be sad if careless mistakes make your writing appear bad especially when you did put in so much effort in the content. Editing and proofreading can appear very similar but they are different. In editing your focus is on content and you can ignore the punctuation and spelling mistakes whereas while proofreading you pay attention to every grammatical and spelling error. Read steady and read every word. Do not completely rely on spell checkers although it is still advisable to use them. Writers often miss out on common mistakes because of how indifferent the words might seem to appear for example ‘their’ and ‘there’ or ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.
These resources on reading tips will further help you in enhancing your writing skills