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What tips do you recommend for improving one's writing?

Updated on April 14, 2008

Admire the craft

While the best way to do anything is to practice, it's also important to practice correctly. I'm not sure how many years of writing experience you have, or what kind of writer you want to become, but improving your writing skills will help you in many ways, not just expressing yourself on page.

The absolute best way to improve your writing is to read a lot. Through reading you will learn the mechanics of sentences and paragraphs, the elements of a plot, character development, and proper grammar usage. The best part about this technique is that you'll learn without realizing it. It works on the same principle as going to a foreign country to pick up a new language. By submersing yourself into good writing, you'll come away with better skills. Read from many different authors. You'll find that if you read several books written by the same author, your writing style will start to sound like theirs. It's not a conscious thing, which is one of the beauties of this technique. After reading Chuck Pahalniuk (Fight Club) you might find yourself writing shorter, more declarative sentences, so switch it up and pick up a Dean Koontz novel for more lengthy, descriptive sentences. Then write. If you like to write stories, then go for it. If you like to write articles, or hubs, or even blog, it'll all work. You can only get better.

There are many ways to improve your writing. One simple way is to use literary devices in your work. A short list with examples follows.

Parallelism-The use of identical or equivalent syntactic constructions in corresponding clauses or phrases.

For example: "You had Dalton fooled. You see, he was rather fond of you-thought of you like a pet, really. His favorite spaniel. He believed he had you under his control. I know he let you get away with running your mouth like a spoiled child, or faking your strength. But you showed all your cards the other day with your little stunt. You're a very powerful tool, which you know. You fooled Dalton, but you won't fool me."

Alliteration- the repetition of a leading consonant sound in a phrase. DO NOT OVERUSE!

"James just jumped to conclusions, leaving little doubt of his state of mind."

Metaphor- a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.

"He is the rock upon which I stand."

There are also a number of habits that you should avoid.

1. Stop writing informally, even in an informal situation. So if you're writing to someone through AIM, MySpace, a blog, or what have you, do not resort to LMAO or LOL, or any other silly shortened phrase. Get creative. Think of new ways to express yourself other than using a clichéd lol.

2. Stop leaning on verbal crutches. Speak with more grace and pride. You will find that the more you read and write, the more articulate you will become, and vice versa. Instead of filling your brief silent moments with a verbal crutch ("um," "like," "uh," "you know,") just stay silent and think about what you want to say. This will force your mind to think, rather than saying "Uhhhhh," as you come up with the next word.

3. Do not over-use certain words. There are many words for the same thing. The easiest way to bore a reader is to repeat the same word in a short amount of space, so mix it up.

4. Avoid clichés when possible. They're boring and unimaginative, so by avoiding them you'll force your brain to come up with something original.

5. Use exclamation points sparingly. Most of the time a period will work nicely.

And your on your way to becoming a better writer.


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    • Jaynie2000 profile image

      Jaynie2000 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your ideas. I have a few more ideas to share if you're interested. They can be found at:

    • profile image

      suziq 1936 9 years ago

      I am working on my third book. I have two now available on Amazon (and other related places). My writing is very dialogue driven, which seems to work on the whole. No complaints so far. Anyway, what I would like is to know if character's thoughts are better put into quotation marks, italics, or what the best way to handle these are. My feeling is that by emphasizing them in italics or quotes, might slow down the reader and be annoying to see on the page. I must learn how else to convey the thoughts of my characters.

    • TravelMonkey profile image

      TravelMonkey 9 years ago from United Kingdom

      please help me write better i'm only a monkey

    • profile image

      free budget 9 years ago

      Very good advice. Now, I just need to use it.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I liked what you said about reading a lot and practicing. Good authors are our models. They didn't get where they are for no good reason.

      I'd like to add this to your advice...

      When you find a passage you particularly like, pick up your journal and write that passage, by hand, word for word, punctuation mark for punctuation mark. Take your time. Don't scribble. As you copy, don't think. Just copy exactly what you see. Get into a rhythm. Maybe even regress to the time you were learning to form your letters as a child.

      This kind of copying embeds the structure of the passage not only in your journal, but in your mind, so that you can use it when you need to.

      Nice answer to the request!

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      I like the red book. It has tons of grammar and writing tips.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

      Thanks, these are great tips.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Very good hub, great advice :)