You know what suddenly grinded my gears yesterday? A piece of writing advice I saw on Quora, a website where you can pose questions and get competent answers. One guy asked a question like “How can I become a better writer and develop my own unique style?” (a pretty typical question on Quora). And one smart dude answered: “Simply write a lot.”
Well… to be honest, I used to give answers like this as well. Like, when someone would ask me, “What should I do to write better?” I’d say a similar, silly thing: “You go and write, and write, and write.” It’s true, to some extent, but people are usually craving for something more specific than just “write from here until the horizon.”
So, to fix my former mistakes and somehow rehabilitate myself, I decided to compose a list of certain specific steps to develop or improve one’s writing style.
1. Simplify your language. This means you should avoid using complicated, clever-sounding, or exquisite words in your writing, unless you are writing for engineers, quantum physicists, and such. This is due to the fact that simple words can generate a wider field of associations and semantic connotations, whereas complicated words and specific terms have narrow meanings. In addition, they are often not communicative.
2. If you can easily add something like “by my momma” at the end of a sentence, it means this sentence should be rewritten. Okay, it means you should avoid using passive voice, because it makes your writing more intricate (This is not always necessary. Check out the rules of using passive voice to see when it should be used.).
3. Lengthy sentences do not indicate your skillfulness. On the contrary, they often make readers bored while reading, so instead of delving into your writing deeper and deeper, they have to wade through it, hoping a lifesaving period (or at least a semi-colon) is somewhere around. So, the shorter your sentences are, the better, though variety is important as well.
4. Do not add anything superfluous. I mean, don’t write like this: “The misty freshness of early spring has fiercely pierced the frozen hearts of lonesome townsmen, whose severe lifestyle caused them to vegetate in grimness.” In other words, don’t use unnecessary descriptions, metaphors, comparisons, epithets, and so on. Directness is often more poetic.
5. Give preference to verbs rather than nouns. The more active verbs you use, the more dynamic and lively your writing will become.
Well, these are the basics, but it should be already enough to improve your writing style right away. Stay updated for more!
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