by Daniel Scocco
A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed.
Now, without further delay, the 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer!
Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.
Participate in NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I noticed that my writing has definitely improved over the course of the book — and it's not even finished yet.
Try not to edit while you're creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you'll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.
A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you're typing. You can't edit what you can't see.
In a sentence: write daily for 30 minutes minimum! It's easy to notice the difference in a short time. Suddenly, ideas come to you and you think of other things to write. You experiment with styles and voices and words and the language becomes more familiar…
Learn the rules of good writing… then learn when and how to break them.
I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in.
7. Nilima Bhadbhade
Be a good reader first.
While spell-checking programs serve as a good tool, they should not be relied
upon to detect all mistakes. Regardless of the length of the article, always read and review what you have written.
Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don't get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don't be offended even if you think it's wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.
Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.
After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud.
Avoid wordiness. Professor Strunk put it well: "a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."
Write as if you're on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again.
Sometimes I type in a large font to have the words and sentences bold before me.
Sometimes, in the middle of a document I will start a new topic on a fresh sheet to have that clean feeling. Then, I'll cut and insert it into the larger document.
I wait until my paper is done before I examine my word usage and vocabulary choices. (And reading this column it has reminded me that no two words are ever exactly alike.) So at the end, I take time to examine my choice of words. I have a lot of fun selecting the exact words to pinpoint my thoughts or points.
To be a good writer is to start writing everyday. As Mark Twain said, "the secret of getting ahead is getting started."
Try using new words. i.e avoid repeating words. this way we learn the usage of different words.
Do edit your previous articles.
Start with small paragraphs like writing an article for a Newspaper, and proceed from there.
Remove as many adjectives as possible. Read Jack Finney's tale, Cousin Len's Wonderful Adjective Cellar for a fantastical tale about how a hack becomes a successful author with the help of a magical salt cellar that removes adjectives from his work.
I set my writing aside and edit a day or two later with the aim of making it terse. It has trained me to be more conscious of brevity when writing for immediate distribution.
Try to write in simple way. Express your views with most appropriate words.
Read great writers for inspiration. If you read them enough, their excellent writing style will rub off onto your dazzling blog.
YOU ARE what you read (and write!).
I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.
For example, in a sentence where you say …"you will have to…" I replace it with "…you must…", or "Click on the Go button to…" can be replaced with "Click Go to…".
Think of words such as "enables", instead of "allows you to" or "helps you to".
If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge.
Don't shy away from adopting the good habits that other writers use.
Do not worry about the length of the article as long as it conveys the point. Of course, the fewer words you use, the better.
Start the article with a short sentence, not more than 8 words.
Instead of adding tags (he said/she said) to every bit of dialogue, learn to identify the speaker by showing him/her in action. Example: "Pass that sweet-smelling turkey this way." With knife in one hand and fork in the other, Sam looked eager to pounce.
Write often and to completion by following a realistic writing schedule.
One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I'm trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.
It's a great strategy for beating writer's block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that's composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere 'big'…
Use others writer's sentences and paragraphs as models and then emulate the syntactic structure with your own content. I've learned more about grammar and punctuation that way.
Avoid long sentences.
Learn the difference between me, myself and I. For example: "Contact Bob or myself if you have any questions." I hear this very often!
When doing a long project, a novel, for instance, shut off your internal editor and just write.
Think of your first draft as a complex outline waiting to be expanded upon, and let the words flow.
Careful with unnecessary expressions. "At this point in time" came along during the Nixon congressional hearings. Too bad it didn't go out with him. What about "on a daily basis?"
For large documents, I use Word's Speech feature to have the computer read the article back. This allows me to catch errors I have missed – especially missing words or words that 'sort of sound the same' but are spelled differently (e.g. Front me instead of 'From me').
Either read the book "Writing Tools 50 Strategies for Every Writer", by Roy Peter Clark, or read the Fifty Writing Tools: Quick List on his blog. Then join a writing group, or hire a writing coach.
Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.
If you're writing fiction, it's a great idea to have a plot. It will coordinate your thoughts and add consistency to the text.
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make
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