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How To Write Effectively

Sep 13, 2008
We all know that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Given the importance of written communication in making first impressions, writing well is a very important skill which everyone should learn from an early age. Writing well is more than merely knowing proper punctuation and grammar; it is also the art of being able to work with the nuances which are made possible by the richness of the English language.

Writing skills are used to make first impressions throughout your life; everywhere from email to introductory letters to accompany your resume to business writing. You wouldn't write the cover letter to your resume in text message style abbreviations (or at least I urge you not to).

Here are some proven tips and techniques to writing well and writing for clarity.

1) Have your audience in mind before you commit words to paper. What does your audience already know about the subject? You shouldn't have to repeat the basics of how to turn on an oven for someone who's an experienced cook, for example. On the other hand, writing a set of instructions for auto repair or how to diagnose a computer problem should start from the very basics and work their way up. 2) When you write, listen to the advice your high school composition teacher gave you. Work from a theme, know how the piece will end, and write from beginning to end before worrying about rewriting. Start from the most important topic and work to your conclusion. 3) When you do a rewrite, don't be afraid to throw the first few hundred words out. It is a very common tendency among beginning writers to use the first four hundred to a thousand words of text on anything as the authorial equivalent of clearing your throat.

Habits to avoid:

Once you have finished your piece, perform a find and replace for *ly - * is a wild card character and "ly" is whatever word you want to avoid using in your piece. If your sentences still read well without this word, leave them out - otherwise, replace the word you have removed with a better adjective.

When possible, always write in the active voice. Remember, show; don't tell. For example: "Brooke ran from her pursuers as fast as she could, her heart racing, as her mind sought any means to evade capture." This is the active voice. And: "Running, Brooke's heart raced as she attempted to evade her pursuers." That would be the passive voice - active definitely reads better and is more likely to attract and retain the attention of your reader.

Read your piece out loud to yourself. This is the very best way to identify a poorly cast sentence out of your piece. You'll be able to hear your words in your head as you write with enough practice; this will greatly improve your writing.

Writing well is a skill that's seldom taught any more. The advice given above used to be drilled into writer's heads when they were in junior high school - now they're doled out in college level courses.
About the Author
Penned by Danise B. Keasda, a skilled teacher for over 12 years. She has been studying on home schooling since the 90's. She is an expert in helping families find resources for writing lessons and paragraph writing exercises.
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