SIX SIMPLE STEPS TO EFFECTIVE WRITING

You Can Write Far Better Than What You Think You Do.

Writing is a craft that sometimes rises to the level of arts. So stop being an artist. Be a craftsman. Use a wordsmith’s tools – plain old hard thinking and the plain old tools of English language. Put such words on paper that people would want to read. Don’t befool yourself into running away from your craft because you lack inspiration. Besides going broke, you will fail the writer within you. Famed writer Ruskin Bond gives a word of caution, though.  He says “…a person has no business to write unless he has something in his heart that cries out to be expressed….” You should remember that.  

Nonetheless, here are some tips and tricks:

  1. MINIMIZE  ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES:
    • Most adverbs and adjectives clutter the thought process the sentence is intending to convey.
    • In careless writing, we weaken strong verbs by adding adverbs that carry the same meaning. This is pure repetition, annoys the reader, clouds the intent of the verb, and elbows the reader off your writing.
    • ‘A personal friend of mine’ is cloudy, ‘a friend of mine’, clear; ‘experiencing any pain’ is cloudy, ‘does it hurt’ clear; and ‘at the present time’ is cloudy, ‘now’, clear. So are adjectives – ‘effortlessly easy’, ‘slightly spartan’, ‘totally flabbergasted’. The ‘effortless’, ‘spartan’, and ‘flabbergasted’ are, in their meaning and intent, far stronger alone than when adjuncts pad them; the wreck that adjuncts inflict is total.
    • It boils down to using the English language, or any other language, in a way that achieves the greatest clarity and strength.    
  2. REPLACE PASSIVE VERBS WITH ACTIVE ONES:
    • Verbs are the most important of all the tools of English language, nay, of any language. They push the sentence forward and give it momentum.
    • Active verbs push the sentences hard and passive ones lug them.
    • Use active verbs unless passive ones are unavoidable. Remember, in clarity and strength, the difference between passive verb writing style and active verb writing styles is the difference between the chalk and the cheese.
    • As active verbs need a noun or pronoun or a person to put them in motion, they enable the reader to visualize an activity. Use active verbs and see your sentences bounding with vitality and strength.   
  3. REMOVE DUPLICATE THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND EMOTIONS
    • Repetition of any kind, unless you plan it to put emphasis, kills the vigor and clarity in a piece of writing. Besides, it alludes the reader to be dumb and annoys her with no purpose whatsoever.
    • Now that social media is carpet-bombing reader with information, she is a restless bird perching on the piece of your writing for a quick look; and mindless repetition surely edges her to fly off your piece. So, be careful not to waste her time. Time is the scarcest commodity today’s reader has.
    • Repetition sneaks into your writing in myriad ways. If you tell the reader things that she already knows, or can figure out on her own, it is repetition. If you tell color of an object which is well known, it is repetition. If you use a decorative adverb that has the same meaning as the verb, it is repetition. A decorative adjective, besides being repetition, is self-indulgence for the writer and a burden for the reader.
    • The rule is simple: each word that you put on paper must be doing useful work. If it is not doing that, it is either a repetition or just dirt; clean that up and see your sentence sparkle.  
  4. LEAVE ONE NOVEL THOUGHT WITH THE READER JUST ONE
    • The reductive decision making delivers you that one provocative thought that your writing should leave in reader’s mind that she didn’t had since before.  This is the most important mechanics of any writing project.
    • In fact, reductive decision about how much of your subject matter you wish to cover  gives you the necessary focus to look for that final point of the piece of writing.
    • Remember you cannot write a book ‘about’ something. You must reduce your project in ‘time and place’ and to ‘individual character in that time and place’. The idea is to zero in on one person pursuing one goal.
    • Hence, choose how much of the subject matter you wish to cover. Choose who is doing what. Cover it well and stop. You will often end up telling almost everything about the subject matter.   
  5. CHECK FOR RHYTHM IN THE PROSE
    • No clear sentence happens on its own. It needs choosing words in view of the nuances in their meaning and in rhythm.
    • Prose writers should be part poet. They should always listen to the sound of their sentences. Your sentences should entertain readers besides giving them information.
    • Phrases like “these are the times that try men’s souls” pamper the reader. She knows that writer has cared to arrange words to entertain her.   
  6. REWRITE THE FINAL PRODUCT
    • Essence of writing is rewriting.
    • Once you have completed a piece of writing, have a hard look at each of the words used. Assess if it is doing useful work. Assess if it is just hanging around or loafing.
    • Rewriting is not fresh writing.  In rewriting, you tighten the sentence and make them stronger by removing weak verbs.  Activate sentences with active voice writing style. Replace longer words with shorter ones. Break large sentences into two or three smaller ones.
    • As shown by blog posts relating to Sewa and Sitwa, cleaner the sentence, stronger it would be.
    • And the final piece of advice comes from William Zinsser.  He says, “ … ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is….”     

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