How to Be a Good Writer

Here are some tips on how to become a good writer. It takes time, perseverance and practice. But with patience, good practical approaches and determination, you can turn your creative desire into concrete writing.


Part 1 of 5: Getting Practice

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    Write a lot every day. You may prefer to write in long or short sessions. Write a short paragraph or an entire page. See which works better for you.

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    Join online or neighborhood writing groups. You can even practice writing at wikis, such as wikiHow and Wikipedia. You will become a more proficient writer as you help people.

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    Do not leave the page blank. Getting anything on the page at all can help you get started. If you do not know what to write, start writing anything at all. Even if you begin with “This is boring and I don’t know what to write,” you may soon find yourself writing something more.

    • Look online for writing prompts. These are designed to give you a starting block to work from.
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    Make sure that people understand and interpret your writing the way you intend. Try it on a test audience and see how they react. If they don’t get it: you’re doing something wrong! Also try taking suggestions from peers and family to help you refine your idea.

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    Ask someone else to read your writing. If at all possible, have a second person read your writing. Choose someone whom you trust to be forthright and frank.

    • Eventually, you may be asked to comment on someone else’s writing. Be honest, but also be tactful! Make sure they understand that some things are more important to fix right away, but there may be other weaknesses that must be addressed eventually, when they’re ready to work to improve their writing quality still further. The desire for perfection can never rest.
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    Keep practicing. Perhaps some day you will become a famous writer, teacher, storyteller, or whatever your dream may be, but the important thing is that you love what you do.

Part 2 of 5: Gaining Vital Skills

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    Expand your vocabulary. Read the daily newspaper. Purchase a reliable dictionary and thesaurus. Your short story will not be nearly as exciting if every character “walks” everywhere and “yells” every time they’re angry. A comprehensive vocabulary can help bring your stories and poems to life, enabling you to better describe the world around you.

    • Do not underestimate the power of “said!” “Said” is a word that becomes invisible in dialogue. Try to only use other words when indicating volume, voice quality, accents, etc. Above all, never use “stated.”
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    Be sure that you are using words correctly. Some of the alternatives listed in your thesaurus may not have the right shade of meaning or be appropriate for the level of formality. Look up the word in your dictionary to be sure, and if in doubt, use a word that you already know. The key to using words in the way they are most commonly understood is to read, read, read. Re-read books and articles that strike you as effective, and closely examine the way they use words.

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    Use proper grammar. Proper grammar can mean the difference between a sentence that is graceful and translucent and a sentence that is awkward and ambiguous. When you first put your ideas on paper, you should try to write quickly so that you do not forget any of them. Be sure to focus on proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in the revision process, though. Dangling modifiers and faulty parallelism can reduce clarity as well as the overall quality of your writing. If you have a question about grammar, refer to a grammar book, such as The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White[1] or The American Heritage® Book of English Usage.[2]

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    Tailor your writing to your purpose and your audience. Just as you change your clothing for the weather and the occasion, you should also change your writing for your audience and your message. Flowery writing, for example, might fit better in a poem than in a status report. Make sure that your writing is not too difficult (or too simplistic) for your audience. Adjust your word choice and sentence length for the given audience and level of formality. Limit jargon, and be sure to give your readers all the background information that they will need to understand your composition.

    • When writing fiction, for example, the rules are quite loose. Figurative language, generalization, writing to be read at the inferential level all have their place. But when you’re starting out, clarity is more important than style.
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    Edit your writing. Once you have a first draft, reread it and rewrite it. You are looking for errors in grammar and spelling as well as style, content, organization, and coherence.

    • Editing is an iterative process. You may edit a piece many times. Just remember, no writing is immediately perfect.
    • Give yourself time between writing and editing, if at all possible. It is better to wait a good length of time, but even a short break can give you some of the necessary distance and detachment to edit well.

Part 3 of 5: Inspiring Yourself

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    Read all sorts of things, but really take the time to enjoy an old-fashioned book. Regular reading will influence your style, taste, background, and ideas. It will also help expand your vocabulary and improve your grammar.

    • Reading pieces by other writers helps you to identify their writing styles and specific things that set them apart. Where necessary make corrections and look for ways you could make their pieces better.
    • Determine what is good writing and what is not. Find your literary heroes. Read both historical and contemporary authors.
    • Read a variety of topics and styles, with a focus on styles or genres in which you wish to write.
    • Make good use of your local library, both as a source of a variety of reading materials and as a resource.
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    Meet a writer. A writer could give you tips as well as tricks. Meet authors at Book launches or Community Book festivals and forums. Perhaps there is a writer living locally that you could consult through a public event, or even write/email them and ask if they are willing to meet you or offer any support.

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    Make lists. Are you writing a short story? Create an outline of the events. Are you a poet? List vivid adjectives or rhyming words for your poem. Are you working on an informative piece? Use a list to narrow down your topic or organize key facts. Are you unable to find a topic? Keep a list of topic ideas. Try brainstorming with the following ideas:

    • Questions that you would ask someone famous
    • Things that you would do if there were no risk
    • Things that you would do with a million dollars
    • Names that you would give an exotic pet.

Part 4 of 5: Writing Vividly

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    Write what you would like to read about. This will be the most engaging for your readers because your passion will shine through. Find something that you are passionate about and that you would pay to read. Focus on success of you story as a story not as a bestseller. Whatever else you are striving for, be it readers or money, will come after.

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    Create a setting and take your reader there. Vividly describe the setting to your reader. If you are writing a story that takes place in another region or another time, add some local color. If you are working on a nonfictional writing about Morocco, tell your reader about the charms of Morocco. Write about it as though you have traveled to Morocco yourself. Pretend that you are writing a travel brochure, and do some research. What would make your reader want to visit Morocco?

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    Be specific. Avoid implying or over-generalizing; vagueness and generalizations are less likely to grab your readers’ attention. Which sentence is more interesting to read: “In this town, the crime rate has significantly increased in the last year” or “In this town, the crime rate has increased more than twenty percent in the last year”? At the same time, try to include only the relevant details; say all that you need to say without wasting space.

Part 5 of 5: Writing Productively

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    Brainstorm before starting to write. In order to focus your writing, begin with the main idea. While thinking about what to write, put down any idea that comes to you, even if it seems far-fetched or unlikely to be successful. One not-so-good idea may lead to a better one.

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    Buy two notebooks. One is a “Vocabulary Notebook”, and the other is an “Inspirational Notebook”. In your “Vocabulary Notebook”, write down new words and their meanings as well as mnemonic devices (memory aids) to help you learn them. You may also want to write down some example sentences.In the “Inspirational Notebook”, write down bits and pieces from your daily life, such as a fun conversation that you overheard in the mall, or a joke that you were told by a friend. This can also be a diary or a journal. When you read something that makes you laugh or think, or tempts you to read aloud, look at what makes it effective.

    • Jot down all the ideas that occur to you, including the ones that would probably never work.
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    Plan your writing, especially if you are producing an informative piece. Use whatever technique works best for you. You can make an outline, put a collection of notes on cards and arrange them until they are in order, or draw a tree or map. It is possible to rapidly organize a broad topic with a tree or map structure.

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    Write as quickly as you can for the first draft. Try typing without looking at the keyboard. Do not pause to correct grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Write at least a few paragraphs before going back and correcting or editing. This is one of the most common recommendations for making sure that you actually finish what you start.

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    Be well-informed about your subject. Your research will make your fictional or nonfictional writing seem that much more real. You can use reading materials such as books, magazines, and online articles and also interview knowledgeable people. You may even be inspired by something that you see on television.

    • Remember that fictional writing will usually require less research than nonfictional writing. Make sure that you have a strong framework for your story before you start researching and filling in details. Try to first develop the main points of the plot. If you are having trouble finishing your story, however, research may give you some ideas for a satisfying conclusion.
    • If it’s an article make sure you have all the facts in front of you. Interviews, research and any background information you can find. Make sure there are no doubts in your mind as to the veracity of your facts.
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    Practice self-discipline. Discipline will be necessary. Writing everyday at the same time regardless of how you may feel will help you to gain this discipline and the will power you need to continue and finish whatever you begin to write.

    • Of course, you also shouldn’t solely look at writing as work. It is actually fun. Don’t stress yourself out.



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