Check out these quick tips to help improve your writing.
1. Resist the urge to explain everything.
Your reader is smarter than you think and their imagination more powerful than any description. While you may think you need to explain in lots of detail, most of the time it’s not necessary.
2. Keep dialogue sharp.
Read your dialogue aloud and if it sounds ‘written’, then you need to rewrite it. As people conversing with each other, our speech isn’t grammatically correct and in full sentences and dialogue needs to reflect that.
3. Focus on nouns and verbs rather than adjectives
It’s tempting to use adjectives to make sure you get your point across but be careful not to overuse. A strong noun and verb can convey more succinctly what you’re trying to say.
4. Read. A lot.
When I was interviewed last week on the radio, I was asked if I think you need to read a lot to be a good writer. I didn’t hesitate - read like it’s your job and you’ll find your writing improves as a result.
5. Use contrast
Or it’s fancy name, juxtaposition. When writing, consider putting two contrasting ideas, characters, or themes together – the affect can elevate your work considerably.
6. Use a thesaurus
It’s easy for writers to get lazy and rely too heavily on their usual prose. Change things up by using an online thesaurus. It’s the quickest way to inject some fresh energy into your work although don’t go to the same extent Joey did on Friends when he was writing an adoption letter!
7. Sign up for online writing workshops
There are lots of free ones and it’s a great way to keep developing your writing skills. You will look at your work in a new light afterwards. Make sure you take notes and refer to them afterwards. Alternatively, sign up for a writing tip blog like this one so every week you get some inspiration.
8. Use foreshadowing
This is a literary term used to hint at something to come later in the book. It’s a great technique to keep your reader reading and the suspense high.
9. Master your mind
Doubt is suicidal for creativity so don’t judge your work too harshly. The fact that you are writing means you’re way ahead already. Always remember, most first drafts are rubbish - it’s in the editing process, that you’ll get the opportunity to really polish your work.
10. Write what you know
There’s a saying that a writer’s first book is often their most autobiographical. Why? Because it’s easier to write about what you know. If you’re a new writer, take advantage of this and write about what you know.
11. Listen and observe
Random conversations overheard in a coffee shop can be gold dust. A stranger’s gesture or expression added to your character can add depth. Wherever you are, take time out to watch and listen – it’s rarely time wasted.
12. Use all the senses
Provide details related to sights, sounds, sensations and tastes, and don’t forget smell. This way your writing will jog a reader's memory or make a reader feel like they are in the same place you're writing about.
13. Go for simplicity over complexity
You might want to impress with a lengthy, more obscure word but your reader will always thank you for simplicity.
14. Use shorter sentences and paragraphs
This will make your writing more impactful. Good writing is always concise – the challenge is transferring our (often long and rambling) thoughts onto the page. Crack this, and your work with improve dramatically.
15. Seek feedback
Proceed with caution. While there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to give your work some life, make sure you’re getting input from the right person at the right time. That is, from a trusted expert.
16. Commit to a daily writing exercise
Flex your brain outside of whatever project you’re working on and make it a habit to do a daily writing exercise to stretch your creative muscles. It could be writing a diary or completing a writing prompt.
17. Remember your genre
If you’re writing romance, are your opening chapters romantic in tone? If you’re writing a thriller, is there a feeling of suspense? It might sound obvious but make sure you fulfil your readers’ expectations.
18. Take a break
If you’ve been typing rubbish for the last thirty minutes at the end of a four-hour writing session, chances are you need a break. Respect that it’s hard to be in creative mode for long periods of time and take a breather.
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