Back to Writing Skills
for Good Writing
You've just begun
You have talked
to some people and searched out information on the Web.
You are ready to
sit down at the keyboard and write.
begin at the computer, here are some basic writing tips that
will help you tell your story more clearly.
story out loud.
Make it fun: tell your
story to your mother, friend, a tape recorder, your cat. Explain
what happened, who was involved, what they said, how it looked.
You can do this as if you were talking about something that
happened on the way home from the mall this afternoon. Going
through the process like this will help you figure out what story
you are going to tell in writing.
most out of every word and sentence.
subjects and verbs up front in your sentences to tell their reader
exactly what happened."The bus crashed into the building."
Use active voice instead of passive.
and specific words to get your meaning across.
It was a pearl-grey
Siamese -- not a cat.
It was a crumbling cement building with broken panes of glass
where windows used to be not an abandoned building.
cliches and overused expressions.
Hey, chances are if you have heard it before,
everyone else has too.
You need to push yourself to find a new way to get your point
use technical or flowery language, foreign phrases or rarely-used
You want to communicate information and ideas not show
off your extensive vocabulary!
Use the language that most people know.
longer sentences into two smaller ones or vary the length by
putting a long sentence between shorter one.
If you have two distinct ideas in your sentence, you probably
need to break it into two smaller sentences.
reader instead of telling.
a person is friendly when you can say how they bounce down the
street, smiling at everyone and calling hello to strangers.
you are telling a story
means characters, scenes and action. Who is there? What are like?
What are they doing and saying? What does the place look like?
earn quotation marks.
should be something interesting and compelling, something that
the source says better than you could.
Do not quote people stating facts:
school board will hold a hearing next Monday night to find out
what parents think of the school closures."
Save the quotation marks for a person's opinion or their experience:
"If parents don't turn up for the hearing,
then I think we know that they just don't care about the school
system," says Anne Smith, a school board member.
in your stories.
Once you have stated
a fact or quoted someone who makes a point about a particular,
there's no need to re-visit the issue.