Tips For Becoming A Better Writer
1. Write in Short Sentences
The reader shouldn't have to work hard to understand what you're saying. If he or she has to go back over a sentence because of poor structure it's not his or her fault, it's yours. Read what you've written aloud or have someone else read it aloud to look for sentences that are too long or convoluted.
2. Go Active
Use active verbs as much as possible. They're more engaging. They move the reader along and take fewer words to get your message across. "John loves Mary" is much more powerful than "Mary is loved by John."
3. Keep it Simple
The front page of The Wall Street Journal and all of USA Today is written for the eighth grade reading level. Why should we be any different? People aren't interested in things they don't understand. Make your points quickly and succinctly. Make your words work and use as few of them as possible. Use the right word, not just to show off your vocabulary (or your new thesaurus), but to convey your message clearly.
4. Tell Stories
Facts tell and stories sell. The best writers and speakers of the world have always been good storytellers. Your own stories are the best. What you are sharing is wisdom from your point of view and stories can illustrate this better than anything else.
5. Know Your Subject
Write on things on which you've earned the right to write. The more you know, the more confidence and credibility you'll have.
6. Write Like You Talk
Often I see people who are good verbal communicators trying to put on a different air in their writing. It doesn't work. It's much better to be conversational.
7. Paint Pictures
We think in pictures and should write in ways that create these pictures in the mind of the reader. Be descriptive. Use examples. Describe the unfamiliar by using some of the familiar. For example: "Jennifer's first day at her new job reminded her of the freshness and unfamiliarity she experienced on her first day of school."
8. Write and Read Extensively
This advice is from Stephen King, a prolific writer. If you want to be a good writer you have to do two thing: read a lot and write a lot. Enough said.
9. Break it Down
Where appropriate use bullet points. Use them for summaries or outlines. Think about someone who may only start out by scanning your text. Let your bullet points draw the reader in.
10. Keep Paragraphs to no more than Six Lines
Short paragraphs provide white space to the text. They break up the page and make it appear less formidable to the reader. Like in music, the space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves.