Ways to Become a Better Writer.

There are plenty of articles on the internet and books out there to help you become a better writer. I have taken a number of them and pieced together what seems to be the best of these ideas and tips.

1) Almost everyone agrees the number one best tip is to read, read and read some more. Try to read just about anything you can get your hands on, the more varied the better. While reading, consciously note the style and pay attention to how ideas and emotions are expressed. Break out of your comfort zone and read articles or stories out of your field of interest, or those with opinions that are opposite of yours. Look to broaden your horizons. Read well known authors, obviously they are doing it right. Be aware of how they can transport you effectively into their world by using great descriptions and dialog.

2) Write every day or multiple times if possible. As with anything, the more you do it the better you get. Writing is a skill and just like any other skill it takes practice, practice and more practice. Write for yourself, on a blog or for publications. Have a great time doing it, but make sure you are doing it. As with anything it gets easier with practice. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.

3) Eliminate distractions. Writing is best done in the quiet. Create a spot what is your writing area or writing room. Do not use this area for anything else. Turn of your e-mail, your phone, the TV. Clear off your desk (you can get all that stuff out later) and put away all distractions so you can work without interruptions.

4) Write down ideas, all the time. Keep a notebook or index cards handy. Write down ideas for stories or characters or settings. Write down little bits of conversations you hear. Write down plot twists, words to a song or poem. Make sure to keep your notebook or cards on the nightstand before you go to sleep. All kinds of ideas make themselves known once your mind quiets down to go to sleep.

5) Build your vocabulary. When you are reading come across a word you don’t know, look it up, add it to your vocabulary and try to use it whenever appropriate in your writing. Below find some links to free vocabulary building websites. www.myvocabulary.com http://quizlet.com https://www.vocabulary.com The English language gives us so many words to choose from sometimes we need to make sure we are conveying the right message. Use your dictionary to check the definition and spelling and when to correctly hyphenate a word. Remember spell check on your computer doesn’t always catch your mistakes. Dictionaries also provide information on the origin of words and wood roots and relationships to other languages. All of which will help you choose the correct word to convey your meaning. Use a thesaurus to get alternative words to convey your meaning. This is a great tool for the times when you find you have used to same word over and over in the same paragraph. Learn the difference between sound alike words such as their/there/they’re or to/too/two and make sure you use them correctly. There are also mistakes that come from the way we talk. When we talk we often times run words together such as “could’ve” instead of “could have”. These contractions are perfectly legitimate forms of speech but make sure you are using the correct form. Also don’t over the “ten-dollar” words. These are the longer, more obscure words that people use usually for the purpose of sounding more intelligent. Remember, it’s not the words you use to show how smart you are it is the ideas you convey. There are times when the “ten-dollar” words work but use them sparingly. The usually turn your readers off.

6) If you are writing fiction, really listen to the way people speak. The main goal of dialog writing is to make your characters come to life. Listen for local expressions, accents, idioms and see how you can use those to make your characters distinctive.

7) Experiment to find your own voice, your style, your mechanics, your themes. Experiment with new words, steal bits from other people, invent new words and see what works for you and throw the rest away.

8) Plan. Decide where you are going and how you are going to get there. Make an outline if that is helpful. Give yourself a map of the characters, places and situations your characters will encounter. It will keep you from getting lost along the way. Some writers spend a great deal of time at this laying out at least the main characters and landscapes. They make sure they know how their characters react to all kinds of situations so that when their “actor” gets his time in the “spotlight” they already know how he/she will react to anything you throw their way.

9) Revise. To be a good writer you must learn to revise. Revision is where good writing really begins. It separates the mediocre from the great. Go back over everything! Look for spelling and grammar mistakes , unnecessary words and awkward structure that make confusing sentences. Aim for clarity, strength and freshness.

10) Become a better researcher. Good writing comes from good research. Get your facts right, give your landscapes the feel of reality (in most cases), your characters the right responses and emotions to go along with what is happening.

11) Keep it simple. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a complex plot to your story, but make sure your sentence length and structure do not overwhelm the reader. Try to express one idea per sentence. If your idea is complex be as succinct as possible. Vary the length of your sentences with comas so that the reader can take a mental breath at the right spot. Try to make sentences with oomph.

12) Learn to be conversational. Many people write too stiffly. Try to write the way you talk. People relate to it better. It’s not easy but keep working at it Sometimes it is better to break to rules of grammar in order to sound conversational than to sound stilted. Don’t break the rules of grammar without a good reason – know you are doing it and why.

13) Start and end strong. The most important parts of your writing are the beginning and the end. Especially the beginning. If you don’t hook the reader in the beginning they won’t follow you to the end. Take extra time to craft your beginning so that the reader will always want more. Occasionally read your material out loud. Good writing has a rhythm and cadence. If you are bored reading your material out loud, then how will your readers feel?

14) Proofread you work: Careless mistakes can spoil an otherwise good piece of writing. If you are not sure about some thins (a fact, a word, or the proper form of a sentence), look it up or ask someone you trust. Don’t rely on your spell checker. It won’t catch real words that are used inappropriately. Don’t rely on grammar checks either. You are the only one who knows what you want to say. Proofread slowly and more than once. Proofread paragraphs out of order or backwards. These tricks may help you find errors you’ll miss if you’ve read the material so many times that your brain already knows what it is “supposed” to say. Sometimes an error will slip through, but make your best effort to produce error free writing.

15) Get feedback: Even professional writers get feedback from editors or other professional writers. Why not you. It is our hope that these tips will be valuable to you as you start your writing career or even if you have already written a book.

16) Keep it honest. Writing is a risky activity. Your writing tells the reader about you, no matter what you write. It shows how you think, what you think and what is important to you. It can indicate your level of education, political leanings, options.