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Tips for Better Writing

by Tonja Taylor  
3/23/2021 / Career


And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.--Habakkuk 2:2, The Passion Translation

Spell-checks and grammar-checkers are great, but they don't catch everything, and they don't always understand what you are trying to convey in a written work. 

The main point of any point of writing (unless it's some obscure, experiential, experimental dark literary fiction, written purposely to be enigmatic--a mystery--but it's best to avoid that junk anyway. The enemy is the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33) and above all, we are to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2). The Spirit of the LORD is continuously working to make things clear to us, Hallelujah, so part of our purpose on the earth is to seek and sow clarity!

There are a few easy, quick things you can do to help your writing be more clear and more excellent:

(1) Read it out loud to yourself (or your pet, or the wall, etc.). If something sounds strange to your ear, it will probably sound strange to your reader. You want whomever reads your writing to be able to receive the information in a pleasant, engaging flow. It is irritating and can be discouraging to a reader if one has to go back and reread something in order to understand it. (That is why some readers struggle with comprehension, but there are various tools and strategies to help overcome that.) So rephrase those awkward areas and read it again, to see if it sounds better.

(2) Record yourself on your phone, computer, or another recorder and listen. Your voice may not sound as good as you'd like it to, but focus on the clarity of the message.  If there is something unclear, then fix it.  Sometimes--especially in this world where things move quickly--people will stop reading if they can't understand what you mean.

You can also read it out loud to another person and see what they think. Be prepared that they may have comments you don't like, although if you choose a friend or family member whom you know is excited about your writing--or whom you know is on your side, no matter what--they will be giving you suggestions in love. 

(3) Read your work backwards. This is a powerful tool to catch errors that the spell-checkers missed. One reason this works is because you can read your writing numerous times--and your brain can glide right across mistakes! That's another reason pros suggest waiting a few days after you think you've finished your work before you publish it, or at least 24 hours or so before you send it or turn it in, if it's a college report or letter going out to many people, etc.  But when you read something from the last word to the first, your brain pays more attention because the material seems "new." 

You can also use this when you study, or even rehearse daily Bible verses. It's a way to keep yourself more focused. 

(4) The last tip for now is to eliminate repetitive words or phrases, and otherwise shorten the sentences.  The exception to this is if you are writing a personal experience piece, or more thoughful work of fiction; something where you want people to savor the experience and not just rush through to get information or a happy feeling. 

So the point is to say what you want to say as efficiently as you can. Your readers will appreciate it.

Newspapers excel at this, because they have limiited space to fill. Another thing about newswriting is that it utilizes the "5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why" to put the most important basic details in the first sentences, so that readers can grasp what the article is about, even if they don't have time or don't want to read the rest of the article. So writing shorter sentences makes your writing "move" faster, and we live in a world that likes to do things quickly.

These tips will help you in any form of writing. You can start with one, and implement it the next time you write something. Soon, it will be automatic, and you may even get compliments on your improved work!

Why don't you practice on this article? I'm sure you can find ways to make it better! 

 

Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, via River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond.

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