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  • Writer's pictureMichael Sauls

How to Become a Better Writer

People often ask me how they can become better writers. Even people who have no interest in storytelling will ask me this question. People use their writing skills so much that it would be difficult to calculate their impact on our daily lives. Improving writing skills can benefit everyone, but to someone who wants to do literary work is essential.

The first step to improve your writing is to improve your vocabulary and grammar. One of the best ways that you can improve your vocabulary and grammar is by reading. Find something that you enjoy and start reading. The rewards of being an avid reader are immense. It will help you in more ways than I have words to describe. If you are willing to take the time, you can exercise your imagination, learn new skills, improve old skills, and broaden your world’s perspective.

If one of your goals is to improve vocabulary, you will have to challenge yourself to read books containing words that you don’t understand. Keep a dictionary handy while you are doing this. It isn’t the same as reading for enjoyment. Learning a new skill can be a struggle at first, but with practice, it gets easier.

Another way is to use a dictionary and a thesaurus. I know that I’ve already mentioned this, but it isn’t enough to learn a new word. Part of understanding the term is knowing what it means and how to use it properly in a sentence. More important than those two concerns is learning when it is appropriate to use this new word. It is well and good to know what a term like violaceous means, but when would anyone use it in a conversation?

Unless someone is a wine lover, they will never likely use that word, but it is still good to know specialty words. Life tends to throw us all curveballs. Everyone will probably end up in that uncomfortable setting where they don’t know anything about the events happening around them. At least with a good vocabulary, there is a chance of understanding the terminology.

Get a grammar manual and read about it. It is an excellent way to review the information that you learned in school. Then practice. Start writing and proofreading your work. There is no easy way to do this. If you want to improve your grammar, then you will need to work on it.

Start playing word and grammar games. There are many good word games available online or as an app for your phone, like Ruzzle or Words With Friends, but if you enjoy board games, scrabble and boggle are fun. Word games are a fun way to challenge the mind, improve your spelling, and are also fun. There aren’t as many grammar games as there are spelling games, but there are a few out there. The concept is the same. You can improve and have fun at the same time, so it is a win-win.

It is also essential to learn what words and phrases not to use when you write. Avoid using adverbs that end in ly. Avoid using really and very in sentences. Avoid using words that make phrases redundant, like “he sat down on the chair” or “he was an armed gunman.” The redundancy just creates a lot of unnecessary words. All gunmen are armed, and everyone that sits is moving down. It doesn’t need to be said. Avoid ending sentences in prepositions.

Try to write in an active voice and avoid using a passive voice. In an active voice, the subject does something to an object or person. Like “Someone served chicken to twenty customers.” In the passive voice, the phrase would look like “twenty customers were served chicken.” As you can see, the active voice sounds more assertive.

While I mentioned the benefits of improving your vocabulary, it is essential to remember that most readers only understand between two and three thousand words. Be careful using too many exotic terms in writing. There are, of course, exceptions. Essays need to fit their target audience. When you write a document for small children, the writer needs to keep the terminology as simple as possible. If the audience is a more educated group, like an article written about technology or something for a medical journal, then the language should be more complex.

If you have some of your ideas for improving vocabulary and grammar, please comment below. Just remember to practice practice practice.

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