5 Ways To Improve Your Writing

How to write powerful, clear, and concise content for both fiction and non-fiction.

There are words and phrases all writers should do their best to avoid — or at least lessen. Bulking up your writing with unnecessary words only makes the story hard to follow, and does not leave the powerful impact you want on the reader. Let’s look at five simple ways you can clean up your content:

1. Look for filler words

A filler word is a word that if you remove won’t alter a sentence. In other words, it’s not necessary. Sometimes filler words or phrases can be used to emphasise something, but they should be used sparingly. Here are some examples to look out for: - Just: “I’m just going to go to the park.” Rather say “I’m going to go to the park.” - Very / Really: Instead of taking them out, see if you can replace them with a better descriptive word. “The speech was very boring today.” Rather say “The speech was monotonous and dull.” - Needless to say: This is pointless. Cut it out, and say what you have to say. - That: “I believe that the book is better than the movie.” Rather say “I believe the book is better than the movie.”

2. Use words you understand

A lot of new writers use fancy words to make themselves look smarter. There’s nothing wrong with using interesting and advanced words, but make sure they help rather than hinder your writing. Remember this at all times: Clarity first, creativity later.

3. Vary your sentence length

We talk in both long and short sentences, so if you want your writing to come across genuine, it should mimic this. Variation is key. You’ll lose a reader if your sentences are too long, wordy, and cumbersome. You’ll lose them if if they’re too short and choppy. Mix it up, to keep the readers wanting more.

4. Show, don’t tell

Your content should be clear enough for the reader to formulate a picture in their mind. You do this by showing, not telling.

Telling: “He sat on the bed feeling bored.” Showing: “He could hear the sound of each tick, and as he stared at the clock he wondered how it was possible for time to move so slowly. On the bed, around him, was his unopened history book. What was the point in studying something from so long ago? Another tick. Another tock. Another slow minute had gone by.”

5. Be more specific about time and quantities

It took me a long time to write this article. How long? What’s long for me might not be long for the reader. One hour? Three hours? The whole day? Powerful writing includes as much specificity as possible. Always try to be precise, clear, and accurate.

Note: Some content was taken from my course 'Writing Your First Novel?' If you're interested in learning more, click here.

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