There always seems to be one more tip that writers can learn in order to improve the quality and efficiency of their writing. The more tips you know and use, the more fun writing becomes. And that’s enough motivation to keep on writing.
- Write shorter. The problem is that you just keep typing. It’s easier and more fun than editing. Besids which, you can always edit later, right? But readers are impatient. They want the plot to move on or to get to the point of some text. The solution? Avoid putting in extraneous text.
- Shorten your sentences. The problem is that you keep tacking on more ideas as you’re writing. You feel that you must share everything with your audience, so yo may tend to blather. However, long sentences confuse readers. The solution? Break long sentences and paragraphs into shorter crisper ones.
- Minimize passive voice. The problem is that you’re afraid to use your own voice or someone else’s. But, using passive voice hides true meaning and feeling. The solution? Make the actor or the author (you) the subject of as many sentences as possible. Don’t say “it is believed that…”. Say “I/he/she/they/we believe that…” Or “Jane/John believe that…”.
- Eliminate weasel words. The problem is that you’re afraid to be daring. But, weasel words make statements sound wishy-washy. The solution? Replace weasel words with strong verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. Or remove the weak sentence entirely.
- Replace jargon with clarity. The problem is that you think jargon, especially technical or “in” jargon, sounds sophisticated, or is expected by your peers. However, jargon may make your readers feel ignorant. The words leave them in the dust. Not a good plan. The solution? Replace jargon with plain English. Remember that your audience usually wants to read your book, not study it.
- Use “I”, “we”, and “you”. The problem is that you’re afraid of sounding informal. However, pronouns invite readers to join you in sharing the knowledge or story. The solution? Imagine that you’re talking with your readers; and write it that way, directly to them.
- Move key points closer to the front of your text. The problem is that you feel you have to warm up your audience before getting to the point. On the other hand, bold statements get and retain attention. The solution? Write bold openings, whether for each paragraph, section, or the whole work. After your first (or second or third) draft, keep looking for ways to state your strong points earlier.
- Cite examples. The problem is that you think that you’re too busy to do research or that you already know all you need to. And besides, you just want to write. However, text without examples or appropriate references can be boring and/or less effective. The solution? Your book-writing plan should allow for spending about half your time doing research, depending, of course, on your topic.
- Give readers some signposts. The problem is that you’re afraid of sounding pedantic or theatrical. However, readers want to have some idea of what’s coming. The solution? After stating and amplifying a point, give some idea of what’s coming next. If nothing else, it certainly improves flow.
Add these tips to ones you’ve already learned. Create a “Tips” document. Organize it in a way that makes it most useful for you. And remember to look at it once in a while.
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