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What Kind of Writer Are You?

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Being – or becoming – a good writer isn’t just important for school assignments or a career in journalism. Writing is a critical skill for virtually any profession, and even experienced writers know they can always improve their work. It’s a quest that should never end, because the more you write, the better your writing can become.

  1. Make sure your sentences are clear and statements accurate. Could your professor or boss misunderstand your words, or miss your point? Are you certain your facts and resources are correct? If you include hyperlinks in electronic documents, did you check to assure they work?
  2. Read what you’ve written. Read it again. Ask someone else to read it. Could you have improved anything? Are there errors in sentence structure, grammar or spelling? Team up with another student or colleague to do regular constructive critiques of your work. It’s a great way for each of you to continually improve your writing skills.
  3. Whether you’ve always loved words, or hated to look them up, online dictionaries and thesauri make using the right words simpler, easier and more precise.
  4. Class work may require detailed annotations and footnotes. Business correspondence should illustrate your message concisely, especially when preparing presentations. Short sentences and paragraphs are best for online, where readers tend to scan the information.
  5. Take a newswriting course. It will teach you how to quickly and succinctly communicate information and how the inverted pyramid can grab your reader’s attention more quickly.  If newswriting isn’t offered at your school, study it on your own using other resources.
  6. Don’t use jargon. Keep acronyms to a minimum and consider whether you really need to use one at all. Are there too many prepositional phrases, generally rife with commas? Write for clarity and understanding – don’t make your reader guess.
  7. Do a comma search. Commas stop the reader, which is what you generally intend them to do. But overuse can result in long sentences that are hard to read and understand. Look at your sentence again. Should you break it into two?
  8. Search again — for repetitive words and phrases that aren’t necessary. Sometimes, however, a particular word might be the best – or only – way to communicate clearly and accurately. And sometimes repetition is used for alliteration or to make a certain point.
  9. Make it interesting. No matter what you write – from business letters to speeches, from research papers to marketing brochures – it should be compelling. Create a mesmerizing lead sentence or statement. Use examples and anecdotes – adapting these to the reader’s business or industry, if possible.

10. No idioms or clichés, for Pete’s sake! Hunt them down and kill them. But beware: clichés are sneaky – in fact, this sentence is starting to sound cliché-like. While it’s fun to discover the origins of slang, idioms and clichés, set a higher standard for your writing. What do you really want to convey? Using clichés is less accurate, and your work will appear unpolished and unsophisticated.

– By Online Learning Tips Staff

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