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10 Tips To Enhance Your Writing Skills

10 Tips To Enhance Your Writing Skills

1 Punctuate Well:

Here’s a quick and cool guide when to use punctuation:

Periods: When you’re writing down a thought and you’re at the end of that thought, put a period.

Commas: When you’re writing down a thought and you want to take a breath, whether mental or physical, put in a comma.

Semi-colon: Put these in your writing in the place where, in conversation, you’d arch your eyebrow or make some other sort of physical gesture signalling that you want to emphasize a point.

Colon: Use when you want to make an example of something: For example, just like this.

Question Mark: Quite obviously, when you have a question.

Exclamation point: When you’re really excited about something. You almost never need to use more than one in a paragraph. Use more than one in a sentence and you damn well better be using it for humorous and/or ironic effect.

Dashes: You can use these when you’ve already used a colon or a semi-colon in a sentence, but be aware that if you have more than one colon or semi-colon in a sentence, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Capitals: Use capitals when you should (beginning of sentences, proper nouns), don’t use them when you shouldn’t (pretty much every other time).

2 With Sentences, Shorter Is Better Than Longer:

If a sentence you’re writing is longer than it would be comfortable to speak, it’s probably too long. Cut it up. Shorter is also better with paragraphs, but there’s such a thing as too short: Take a look at a not-particularly-well-edited newspaper and you’ll see a lot of single-sentence paragraphs, generally preceded or followed by other single-sentence paragraphs that should have been compressed into one paragraph. Good rule: One extended idea or discrete event per paragraph.

3 Learn To Spell It Right [not write]:

A budding writer should jolly well know his spelling well, especially the appropriate word at the appropriate place. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy.

With the advent of modern technology spelling isn’t hard. Nearly every single computerized writing tool has a built-in spell-check that will catch 90% of your spelling errors, and as for the rest of them, well, it isn’t too much to ask adults to know the difference between “their” and “there.” It’s really not.

Also, here’s a handy tip for those of you with Internet access. If you have a word, the spelling of which you’re not sure, and you don’t have a dictionary handy (either bound or online), copy the word, paste it into Google’s search engine, and hit “search.” If you’ve spelled it incorrectly, chances are really excellent that when your search results come up, up at the top Google will ask “Did you mean:” and present whatever word it is that you’re failing to spell.

4. Don’t Use Words You Don’t Really Know:

It’s nice to use impressive words from time to time, but if you use an impressive word incorrectly, there could be no mistake graver than this.

Thus generally: stick to words you know you know, and work towards expanding your own vocabulary before you pen down any new word.

5 Grammar Matters:

Now, obviously, you should know as much grammar as you can; the more grammar you know, the better you can write. But the bottom line is just this. Be as clear as possible. If you’re not confident about the grammar of a sentence, re-write it and strive for clarity. Yes, it’s possible that in doing so the resulting sentence will lack style or something. But it’s better to be plain and understood than to have people admire your style and have not the slightest idea what you’re trying to say.

6 Front – Load Your Point:

If you make people wade through seven paragraphs of unrelated anecdotes before you get to what you’re really trying to say, you’ve lost. However, this point is more flexible than some of the others; sometimes you want to go the long way around to make your point because doing so makes the point stronger. But all in all, most of the time it’s better to let people know what you’re doing than not, if only because then you have a better chance of them sticking around until the end.

7 Try To Write Well Every Single Time You Write:

Every write up that you do is bringing you closer to excellence, thus take every small bit of your writing be it an article, a poem, a high school essay, a blog or a research dissertation seriously and write it to the best of your satisfaction.

8 Read People Who Write Well:

Don’t just read for entertainment, but also look to see how they do their writing — how they craft sentences, use punctuation, break their prose into paragraphs, and so on. Doing so takes no more time than reading what they write anyway, and that’s something you’re doing already. If you can see what they’re doing, you can try to do it too. You probably won’t be able to re-create their style, since that’s something about that particular person. But what you can do is recreate their mechanics. Don’t worry that your own “voice” will get lost. Be readable first and your own style will come later, when you’re comfortable with the nuts and bolts of writing.

9 When In Doubt, Simplify:

Worried you’re not using the right words? Use simpler words. Worried that your sentence isn’t clear? Make a simpler sentence. Worried that people won’t see your point? Make your point simpler. Nearly every writing problem you have can be solved by making things simpler.

10 Speak What You Write:

If you can’t make your writing understandable to you, you can’t make it understandable to others. This is rule zero because all other rules follow on this. Basically: If what you’re writing is hard to speak, what makes you think it’s going to be easy to read? It won’t be. So speak out loud what you write. If you can’t speak it naturally, rewrite it. Simple.






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