Although there are many rules, writing is more of an art than a science. That makes any advice on ‘how to write well’ a little difficult.
There are no hard and fast rules, only rules of thumb.
However, there are some unwritten rules which you can use as a general guide. Don’t be surprised though, when you come across something good which breaks the rules.
That’s writing. It’s creative. Rules don’t always apply.
So, here are 15 tips I’ve learned, not at school, but in the past few years I’ve been blogging.
How to write well…
1. Be direct - Flowery language is rarely effective for any type of writing. For most bloggers, it’s unnecessary.
2. Vary your paragraphs - Paragraphs should vary in length, but are best kept short. Use very short paragraphs to get an important point across.
3. Shorten your sentences - Brief and pithy works best.
4. Use words for clarity - Write to be understood. Only use the vocabulary necessary to get your point across. In other words, don’t use an unfamiliar word just because you can; only if it’s critical to clarity.
5. Be personal - Add yourself. No one can write like you. Ever. You should, therefore, endeavour to make people aware that it’s you writing. Your regular readers should be able to identify you. They should hear your voice.
6. Be passionate - Perhaps you should refuse to write anything that’s not presently burning like fire inside you?
7. Forget what others are saying/said - Don’t be afraid to write without references. Depending on what others have written on your subject for inspiration, often hinders original thinking. You end up writing what people can read elsewhere. Is that what you want?
8. Stay focused - Tightly focused articles are easier to remember. If you waffle, you’ll lose people.
9. Be interesting - You can’t be interesting to everyone. But, if someone has a passion for the topic you’re dealing with, they should be gripped. Ever read something, get half way down the page and realise you can’t remember anything you just read? You must captivate people, continually.
10. Spend time on your heading - Make it irresistible to those who should read what you’ve written.
11. Add facts, stories, metaphors, etc - Sprinkling relevant facts, illustrative stories, analogies and metaphors through your writing help to break monotony. They work like magnets, drawing in the attention of the reader.
12. Edit severely - Be your own worst critic. Remove the unnecessary. It’s too easy to write cliched phrases, ie ‘whether or not’ when ’whether’ is sufficient. Also, the word ‘that’ is a frequent offender [that] people use too often.
13. Read what you write - That is, read aloud. It helps to improve flow and find errors.
14. Write regularly - To improve your writing you must write. There is no substitute for this.
15. Question great writing - When you read a great article, take time to disect it. Why did you read it? If it was so good, why? What did they do to make you read to the end? This will help you to learn new principles, and enforce the effectiveness of those you already know.
Any others you can suggest?