14 Tips to Improve Your Writing
1. Write first, edit second
Avoid the temptation to edit while you write as this will ruin your flow and stifle your creativity. You want your ideas to flow freely; go back and edit later.
2. Write every day
Write at least 500 words a day. You can write about anything. There are many websites that will give you writing prompts if you are at a loss for a topic.
3. Read your work out loud
This is especially important for poetry as it will give you an idea of the flow of the sentences and the lyricism of the writing.
4. Join writer’s forums
Get feedback on your work by joining a writing forum. You’d be amazed how much a little bit of constructive criticism can improve your work.
5. Show, don’t tell
Paint a picture of the scene you are describing by using vivid language that makes use of literary techniques such as simile and metaphor.
6. Vary sentence length
By alternating between short and long sentences you will stop your reader from dozing off. You want to avoid monotony.
7. Read a lot
Read all types of writing. Renowned South African author Andre Brink says that you should think about why some of it works and why some of it doesn’t, and try to incorporate what you’ve picked up from the good writing into your work.
8. Avoid clichés
Nothing makes a reader lose interest in a piece of writing quicker than clichés.
9. Improve your vocabulary
Make an effort to learn a new word every day. Write down words that you don’t know whenever you come across them so that you can look them up and try incorporating them into your writing.
10. Keep it simple
Over-use of adjectives is a no-no. Rather use active verbs.
11. Think about what you are trying to say
Use short sentences for action and longer sentences for description.
12. Write dialogue in the past tense
For example, “Let’s go to the beach,” said Sarah is much easier to read than, “Let’s go to the beach,” says Sarah.
13. Write authentic dialogue
Use contractions, let characters leave sentences hanging, and add the occasional ‘um’ or ‘er’. Also, think about your character profile and make the dialogue fit. For example, someone who has little or no education wouldn’t have a big vocabulary.
14. Avoid dialogue tags
Rather use action to indicate who is speaking, for example. “Pass the bowl,” said Tim works better than, Tim cocked his head and said, “Pass the bowl.”
Have we missed anything? Share your writing tips with us.
Written by Zara Jade Bosman
Image credit: Microsoft Images, Royalty Free