Do you dream of changing the world with your words or do you aspire to be the next J.K Rowlings, or the next C.L. Lewis? Or maybe you just want to be able to better express your thoughts and ideas more clearly. Becoming a great writer or even a good writer takes practice and knowledge, but with enough hard work perhaps someday somebody will aspire to be the next you!
1. Be active instead of passive. One of the most common manifestations of bad writing is overuse of the passive voice. The passive voice makes the object of an action into the subject of the sentence with verb forms like "X had been attacked by Y" instead of simply "Y attacked X." Learn to avoid these constructions as much as you can.
- "The novel had been written by John while he was in school" is passive. "John wrote the novel while he was in school" is active.
- Using the passive voice isn't always bad. Sometimes there is no clear way to make a statement active, or sometimes you want the lighter touch a passive construction allows. But learn to follow this rule before you start making exceptions.
2. Use strong words. Good writing is precise, evocative and spiced with the unexpected. Finding the right verb or adjective can turn an uninspired sentence into one people will remember and quote for years to come. Look for words that are as specific as possible. Try not to repeat the same word over and over.
3. Cut the dribble . Good writing is simple, clear and direct. You don't get points for saying in 50 words what could be said in 20. Good writing is about using the right words, not filling up the page. It might feel good at first to pack a lot of ideas and details into a single sentence, but chances are that sentence is just going to be hard to read. If a phrase doesn't add anything valuable, just cut it.