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Wednesday, 28 December 2016
6 Quick Tips to Spruce Up Your Writing
Precision is Everything. Photo Copyright Gareth Cameron
The following tips will immediately
improve your writing. You’re bound to slip up if you are writing or
typing quickly, trying to get your ideas down. This is okay; it’s good not to stem your flow while you are feeling creative.
You are the only one who needs to see your first draft. Carefully
going through your work when you’ve finished your draft, then
eliminating these errors, will make an enormous difference.
people find it’s better to do their editing after they’ve had a
break, rather than immediately. This is because editing is an
objective exercise. A little distance from the passion you feel
when you’re being creative is required, for editing to work well.
overuse of empty words, such as: very,
really, quite, fairly, suddenly.
Because these words are generally overused, they have little impact
on your writing. Use them sparingly. See how much more clout your
writing has when it is free from these minor distractions.
this moment in time, “At the end of the day,” “When all is said
and done,” “It should be pointed out,” “It is my considered
opinion.” “In actual fact. These
phrases don’t impart authority, just long-windedness. Apart from
that, they are clichés and all writers need to avoid well-worn
phrases that add nothing to the quality of the writing. Remember
though, they can work in dialogue for characterisation. Dialogue
needs to sound natural and if your character would speak that way,
then allow him/her to do so.
repetition by not using the same word twice in one sentence. (This
doesn’t, of course, include linking words, articles or pronouns,
like and,the or
wanted to dance,
so she danced
with her friend.” Again, this is easily done and easily missed, and
it won’t spoil your entire work of fiction if one or two small
repetitions escape your notice. Or - if you are using a word for special effect, as I did with the word "easily". But eliminate repetition as much as
up your Adjectives
use too many adjectives. It’s better to use one strong adjective
than two weak ones. Adjectives describe a noun, for example, exquisite, delicate. If you want to use an adjective to describe something,
stick to just one and make it a strong word. Sometimes new writers
describe their character as being, scared
One word will be more precise and have more impact – these
two words have almost the same meaning in any case, and only differ in the
intensity of the feeling they express.
Verb instead of Verb and Adverb
a strong verb, rather than a verb and adverb. For example: “His
hand shook nervously”
could be replaced by ‘’His hand trembled.”
Or, “She was shouting
loudly at him” becomes, “She was yelling at him.” If you can
incorporate your weak verb and adjective into one strong verb that
means the same, then one word is doing the work of two. This is good
practice and makes for concise prose.
Weak Verbs with Stronger Verbs
could also go through your verbs, even if you have used only one, and
see if you can find a more specific verb to replace it. But don’t
overdo it or your prose may become heavy and sound contrived. As you
get more practice, you will sense what sounds best.
are small changes and these tips may seem like nitpicking, but you
will be surprised how much difference it will make to your writing.
This is, of course, different from how you learned to write in school
and that is absolutely okay. When young people are learning, they are still working on their vocabulary, sentence structure and
spelling and teachers encourage them to use as many new words as they
can. Adults will find that the more they discriminate in the language
they use and the tighter their prose becomes, the better the writing.
In producing quality prose.