Today, text content rules the world. Business, academia, and coding all require writing to function. Therefore, excellent writing skills give you an edge in this competitive information age.
Learn timeless writing strategies to improve your skills and become a better communicator.
Communication is key to survival, pushing human interaction forward, whether spoken, written, or indicated via body language. Persuasive communication is an art, and writing is a significant communication component.
This article focuses primarily on written communication and provides you with writing strategies to help hobbyists and professional writers to compose better.
Read, Read, Read
Good writing begins with good reading.
Words originate in thoughts, and reading helps create thoughts. Read a storybook or even a reading strategies book. Read whatever you want. Just read.
Reading familiarizes you with the language and helps make sense of good writing. Reading literature exposes you to the cultivated writing of great writers and sets an example of a good effective essay.
Any topic will do.
- Do you like to read about food?
- New art and culture?
- Or do you love knowing what's going on in the cinema?
Picking a book from any subject and genre and simply going through it with attention will enable you to hone your writing skills.
In short, reading helps:
- Build vocabulary
- Teach effective writing strategy
- Introduce new ideas
- Give direction to thoughts
Recommended books on writing:
- The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo
- The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo
- The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane
Planning your piece is commonly known as pre-writing—the stage where you sit down and assemble your ideas from scratch, understand objectives, build your arguments, and collect supporting information and examples to produce your theses.
Once you have a topic in mind, you can dive into research.
Are you thinking to yourself, what should I write?
Don't worry. Many tools on the web help you find topics to write on, and Blog Ideas Generator is one such fantastic tool.
Jot down points, brainstorm ideas, and scribble them as bubbles on a page or screen. Some great ideas are bound to come up.
Find More Resources
When it comes to resources, the internet is your best friend. Anyone can find help on the internet. Some reliable sources include:
Once you have all the needed materials, the next thing on the list is to create an outline. Outlines help set clear objectives around what you want to communicate to your readers.
First, review the ideas you have jotted down and scratch off anything irrelevant. Make a flowchart of how you want to proceed with the writing. Make sure every point works towards and not against your goals.
An outline should contain points for:
- Introduction: This should include the title and the key phrases of your thesis statement.
- Body paragraphs should have keywords for topic sentences and key phrases from arguments.
- Conclusion: This should incorporate a general summary of your article and a clincher sentence.
Know Thy Audience (with Examples)
Consider who you're writing should reach.
Are you writing for middle schoolers or college students? Your reader, especially their reading age, should determine the complexity of your writing.
What is a reading age? "Reading age is the average reading ability expected of a child of that age in full-time education."
In the UK, the average reading age is just about eight years old.
Therefore, if your writing contains ideas and vocabulary requiring a graduate degree to decipher, your readers may miss out on essential concepts you're trying to explain.
Writing in clear sentences is the key to improving your readability score.
Easier to read: 'Crane machines have long arms.'
Needs attention while reading: 'Crane apparatuses have elongated arms.'
Using sophisticated but straightforward vocabulary helps maintain clarity. Unless you're writing something formal or academic, directly address your audience, use powerful verbs to help take action forward, and write personally.
Don't write for yourself. Write for your reader. Write to them personally, ideally in a way that addresses their idiosyncrasies. While you do not need to water down your material, you also do not want to show your skill. If you are writing for an audience, your intention must be to ensure they comprehend what you are trying to express.
Freewriting is a technique that enables you to scribble your thoughts onto paper without the constraints of structure, grammar, spelling, and meaning. It helps unload your mind freely and follow your impulse without conscious effort. This technique is what literary giant Virginia Woolf would call a "stream of consciousness."
Freewriting is one of the best writing strategies that help writers push through common problems like writer's block, writing speed, and creative flow.
Developing Skilled Writers
Sometimes, writers get stuck for months during creative blocks. During these periods, they cannot produce any writing, disrupting their work and life. If you are a writer going through a similar problem, try freewriting and do it the first thing in the morning.
If you are staring at the blank page for too long, try using a prompt. Take the first thing you see and observe everything about it. Try describing it in terms of texture, color, or shape. You can use any random object and try writing about it. One of these things may lead to an imaginative paragraph or two.
Writing Structure (with Examples)
What is structure? The core of your writing, for one.
Writing structure is how you build or design arguments into your writing and is the skeleton of your thesis.
The first sentence and the second sentence are where you establish the central idea of your writing. These are also known as topic sentences and introduce to the reader what your text is about and what they can expect if they keep reading.
Keep your sentences short and straightforward. One rule of thumb is to include two new points per sentence. That way, the sentence will be crisp but not choppy.
- Long version: Everyone who had the joy of knowing her will miss her convivial nature and immense dexterity, and sense of humor and will be reminded of everything that she stood for.
- Short and Simple version: Everyone who knew her will miss her friendly nature, immense agility, sense of humor, and everything she stood for.
Choosing the right words can impact the reader immensely. There are many words to choose from, but which will best help you to achieve your goal?
Let's divide words into three small groups - creative, casual, and official.
You can use creative words while writing fiction, expressing feelings and moods, requiring elaboration and complexity.
For example, "A mist of despair settled on the cabin's tenants."
Audience: General reader of the text.
Intention: To express the depth of discomfort in the situation.
Casual words are mainly conversational words used in day-to-day exchanges.
For example, I used to hang out there all the time.
Audience: Friend, acquaintance, young.
Intention: To tell nonchalantly.
Official words are used for businesses, legal reports, emails, and more.
For example, "Like 21st-century fascism and religious fundamentalism, neoliberalism is a movement without declared adherents__." (The Observer)
Audience: Wide range of news consumers.
Intention: To declare with authority.
Notice the bolded words. Each situation, subject, audience, and intention determined the word choice.
Where to Start
Every writing strategy book will tell you to start with a good hook.
One of the most suitable strategies to grab your reader's attention is tossing an exciting idea at them, which will help build curiosity in their minds.
Here are examples of some of the most refined first lines in the history of the world-
- All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
- In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
- There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. ― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"
- As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. ― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
- Is today a good day to die? ― Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
- Marley was dead: to begin with. ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Creative Writing Tools
Another writing strategy to enhance your text is to follow specific best practices:
- Use robust verbs
- Cap usage of adjectives and adverbs
- Maintain order of arguments
- Be plain, direct but not bare
Literary devices are tools writers use to influence the narrative of the text. You'll be familiar with literary devices if you're a literature student (or a graduate).
Literary devices help take a text beyond the literal meaning of the observations.
Professional writers use such strategies in writing to make interesting points and leave room for imagination.
Examples of some relevant literary devices are as follows:
- Simile: A direct comparison of two unrelated objects. In the sentence, you can identify a simile by the words "like" or "as." For instance, The moon looks like a white cookie.
- Metaphor: An indirect comparison of two unrelated objects. Words such as "like" or "as" are not present in metaphors. For instance, Camels are the ships of the desert.
- Imagery: A device that helps create a vivid image in your mind. It appeals to the senses of the reader. For instance, The pink blanket felt soft as cotton.
- Personification: This helps give human attributes to non-human entities. For example, The phone spoke loudly in the silent room.
- Hyperbole: An inflated description of something or someone. Exaggeration. For example, I will identify that stone from a hundred miles away.
- Irony: When a writer writes something, it means the opposite to debase the subject—for example, Politicians and their love for truths.
- Juxtaposition: When two unrelated, contrasting expressions are placed side by side to put intensity on a certain point. Examples include relaxing office hours, a little palace, smooth legal systems, honest murderers, etc.
- Paradox: A statement that seems contradictory at first but later makes sense. It has an underlying meaning revealed unconventionally. For example, Even when I lie, I tell the truth.
- Climax: A decisive juncture in a story where the tension has built up, culminates.
- Colloquialism: An informal speech, very specific to a time, geographical location, sex, and age. Examples of contemporary colloquialism are pop for soda, nappies for diapers, bruh for close friend or brother, and newb for a beginner.
- Euphemism: A term or phrase replaced by a polite one to maintain civility. Examples include being put to sleep for being euthanized, a correctional facility for prison, thin on top for bald, etc.
Including pictures, videos, and other forms of media in your text will help engage the reader, especially if they are a child.
Media corresponding to your content will make your writing more comprehensive and memorable.
Post-writing, also known as editing, is what every professional writer does to make their draft immaculate. Being a good editor can also tighten your writing because editors spot where the imperfections lie. Editing is not a one-size-fits-all process, but with observation and practice, you can improve and self-edit as needed.
- Developmental editing looks at the big picture and checks if your lesson follows your intent.
- Structural editing sees if the paper properly communicates the ideas to the readers.
- Content editing focuses on formatting, style, and content to improve comprehension and visual experience.
- Line editing means going through each line to research every word's impact.
- Copyediting puts under the microscope things like readability, punctuation, and finesse.
- Fact-checking makes sure all factual details provided are correct.
- Proofreading is one of the essential parts of editing. It is also the last and final piece in the editing puzzle. It's what makes your writing print-ready. Grammatical, spelling, structure, and layout errors are corrected at this stage.
Writing Strategies for Teaching
Teaching strategies for writing A-grade writing are summed up here in small groups:
- If you're a teacher, focus on good lesson language that helps kids gain interest in the classroom. Beginning with a relevant and relatable lesson will make the learning course successful. Including activities in the classroom like reading out interactive sentences helps put these skills into practice.
- Focus on writing activities such as drafting letters, finding essential material from a paper, examining a little bit of newspaper language, and writing essays that students later discuss are exercises that also liven up the learning process.
- Dividing students into small groups and introducing lesson language with peer reviews is a good strategy for teaching writing skills.
Writing Skills Summed Up
Now you know all the writing strategies that can be used before, during, and after writing.
Whether you're working on a school assignment, work proposal, or personal blog, these strategies will come in handy.
With time and practice, you can develop your writing style by learning what suits you best.
All the above strategies help teachers and students begin a journey towards drafting quality material.