Improve Your Writing
As an editor, I interact with many writers throughout the day. Many have asked, what’s the best way to improve your writing?
Going back over past emails, I’ve consolidated to share the advice in this article.
The most important way to become a better writer is to read across different genres. If you mainly read fiction, try books on history or biographies. The more diverse the reading, the more dynamic the writing, as it allows us to see different styles.
When creating dialogue, try to write as we speak.
Instead of writing:
Jim said, “Hi Sally?”
Sally replies, “Hola, Jim.”
Make it fluid. Give a brief opening and let the dialog bring the characters to life.
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.
3. Reference Books
One way to practice with this approach, pick a random word as a prompt. Then use the word directly or the theme of the definition in a poem or short story.
If it’s a verb, focus on the action. If a noun, describe the definition without using the actual word. This helps to focus on the meaning of what we write.
In this example, we’ll use the word flower.
1. the seed-bearing part of a plant, consisting of reproductive organs (stamens and carpels) that are typically surrounded by a brightly colored corolla (petals) and a green calyx (sepals).
We’ll write a short poem describing the life and death of the plant. We won’t mention the word flower. But describe it with words to show and not tell.
She shines under the golden light:Kevin
Embracing the warmth with her might.
Her stem buckles under the breeze,
As thirst devours her lush leaves.
Her petals fall upon the earth,
The land devours, no rebirth.
A thesaurus helps us find words with more profound meanings. It helps to take our writing to the next level.
Take a piece you’ve written in the past and replace the words. Revise it with a thesaurus in hand. Search for stronger words to increase the emotion or feeling.
Jim ran to the store to buy a bag of chips. He was hungry and needed to eat.
Famished, Jim sprinted to the store to quell his hunger. He purchased a bag of chips and devoured them in one bite.
Whenever there’s a chance to engage in prompts, do it. We can find them all over the web
A while back, I engaged in a Twitter horror prompt. The challenge, write a poem or story with up to 280 characters based on the word mayhem.
Rather than using the word verbatim, try to use the definition or theme 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 on his face never left me. That soldier was me.Kevin
The only way to improve one’s writing is to write. Find a prompt and dig in. You never know what you will come up with.
I hope this has helped give a little inspiration into the creative writing process. If you have a story or poem you’d like to share, submit it. You’ll never know what could become of it.