How to Improve Your Writing

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Many have asked what’s the best way to improve your writing.

Reading

The most important one is to read across different genres. If you are a fiction reader, pick up books on history and vice versa. The more diverse your reading, the better it will help your writing become.

Dialogue

Tip #2, practice wiring dialogue. It forces you to think outside the box. But when you write it, try to approach it as you would speak.

Instead of writing:

Jim said, “Hi Sally?”
Sally replies, “Hola, Jim.”

Make it more fluid. Give a brief opening and then add the dialog between characters.

Jim and Sally approached one another, and before Jim could slip past her, she replied, “Hey man, what’s up, where you headed?”

“To the store. Gonna pick up some cigs.”

“Cool, mind if I come?”

Without hesitation, Jim makes a run for it.

Reference Books

Tip #3, keep a dictionary, and thesaurus close. I practice this daily. These two items alone will improve your writing tenfold.

The dictionary will help you dramatically increase your vocabulary. And one way I like to practice with it is to pick any random word as a writing prompt. Use it in a poem and short story with the correct grammar. If it is a verb, then action. A noun, then the subject. If an adjective or adverb, then a modifier. It helps you to consider grammar instead of loosely throwing words down on the paper.

A thesaurus will help you find words with more profound meanings. This approach will help take your writing to the next level.

Next time you write a poem or short story, revise it with the thesaurus in hand, looking for stronger words to increase the piece’s emotion or feeling. And in doing so, it will help you restructure your sentences, making them stronger.

Before

Jim ran to the store to buy a bag of chips as he was hungry and needed to eat.

After

Famished, Jim sprinted to the store to quell his hunger. He purchased a bag of chips and devoured them in one gulp.

Prompts

Whenever you get the chance, engage in prompts. We can find them all over social media such as Twitter, allpoetry.com, and even on Medium. One approach is to pick a prompt that’s out of your comfort zone. It forces you to get creative within its confines.

Back in October I have engaged in a horror prompt. The prompt, write a poem or story with up to 280 characters based on the word mayhem.

Rather than using the word verbatim, write using the definition of it in your story.

In 266 characters, I came up with this.

Gunfire ripped through the forest. Bodies shredded. I dove under the Stryker and opened fire. It’s hell on earth. And then, silence. I stood, backtracked fifteen paces, tripping over an officer’s severed head. The terror in his face never left me. That soldier was me.

The only way to improve your writing is to write. Find a prompt and dig in. You never know what you will come up with.

  • Ex-journalist writing once again through poetry and prose and founder of Written Tales. A magazine to connect readers and writers.

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