How to Make Your Writing Sparkle : For Publication or Pleasure
Guest Post by Diana M. Raab
Whether you are a fiction writer, nonfiction writer, artist or business person who wants to get reader attention, there are a number of things you can do to grab your reader’s and keep them with you. Those of you who are published writers, have probably heard these tips numerous times, but sometimes we all need a gentle reminder. Whatever your reason for writing, when crafting your next letter, story, article or poem, try to keep the following in mind:
1) Use the active voice – the subject of the sentence performs the action specified by the verb rather than the subject being acted upon. These sentences have energy and are direct.
2) Show don’t tell – this should be a writer’s mantra. This is done using dialogue, sensory language (taste, touch, smell), providing description and being specific by giving details.
3) Maintain one point of view – write from either your perspective or someone else’s. Switching points of view can confuse the reader. While writing, be sure to be aware of who is telling the story.
4) Avoid repetitiveness – do not use the same word twice in a sentence. Also, vary sentence structure by refraining from starting subsequent sentences with the same word.
5) Avoid run-on sentences.
6) Use strong verbs.
7) Use short sentences and paragraphs.
8) Stick to the subject of your writing and also to the main point.
9) Avoid clichés – these are overused phrases which make writing flat and boring and show a sense of laziness on the writer’s part. (for example: “Her eyes were as blue as the sky,” or “The job was as easy as pie.”)
10) Read your writing out loud to detect flow and inconsistencies.
11) Review and revise what you’ve written and only share when you are satisfied with your words.
Diana Raab is a memoirist, essayist, poet and author of seven books and editor of two essays collections, including the latest, Writers and Their Notebooks (2010) with an introduction by Phillip Lopate. She is a journaling advocate and teaches in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and in various conferences around the country. Her forthcoming book, Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey is forthcoming from Loving Healing Press in June 2010. Visit Diana Raab.