How to Create Quality Writing

Four Parts:Taking It SlowEstablishing Your Writing StyleRevising Your WorkWriting Help

Written communication is paramount in today’s world, and developing strong writing skills can make all the difference in your pursuit of better grades, a better job, or if your dream is to publish a book. Knowing how to create quality writing can add to your professional credibility or help to improve your grades on writing assignments and essays. Although writing is an art form, it’s one that can easily be learned through the development of good writing habits.

Part 1
Taking It Slow

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    Learn from the masters. The first way to learn how to create good quality writing is to read good quality writing. Successful writers often need to adopt the methods of others to become better rounded. [1]
    • Find writers that you admire and read their work. What is it that you like about their writing? Determining that will help you adopt their successful methods into your own writing.
    • Try to adopt the facets of their writing that you appreciate without copying their writing style. Incorporate their strengths into your writing skill set.
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    Study the work of historical masters. Not everything about their writing may translate well into your own style, but it will help you develop a better rounded understanding of the craft and establish a rhythm to your work. Start by reading the work of some of these authors:
    • Ernest Hemingway
    • James Joyce
    • William Faulkner
    • Charles Dickens
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    Study the work of your contemporaries. If there are writers that are succeeding at the type of writing you hope to do, study how they write. Some kinds of writing require specific formatting or tones; reading successful work can help you understand those requirements.
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    Write in slow motion. Choose strategic detail. Think about what your words are saying about your environment, your characters, your narrator, and your style. Rushing could cause you to make unnecessary mistakes. Craft your writing carefully like you're cooking a complicated dish. Leaving out an important ingredient could ruin the final product.
    • Write your first draft by hand so you're forced to slow down your pace and choose words carefully. This will give you an opportunity to select your word choices and establish a rhythm to your writing. [2]
    • If you are submitting your writing to be published or for a grade, taking your time will help you avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes.[3] This will reduce the time you have to spend revising your work.
    • Keep writing. The more you write the more you'll know what works and what to cut later. For now it's important to get words on paper. You can always return for another edit. It's always better to have too much and remove content than it is to have to try to strengthen your argument in later revisions.
    • Allow yourself plenty of time to create an outline and write your first draft. Step away from your work for a while after the draft is complete so you can return to it with fresh eyes.

Part 2
Establishing Your Writing Style

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    Use common terms in your writing. Writing large words doesn't always mean having large ideas. It's okay to use big words, but remember to keep your audience in mind when writing. Difficult words can sometimes alienate readers and if you aren't sure about the definitions of your word choices you run the risk of using a word incorrectly.
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    Avoid casual language in your writing. Choose your words carefully to best convey your thoughts without using slang terms or colloquialisms.[4] If you're unsure if a word is slang, look it up in the dictionary to confirm.
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    Choose your language based on the audience. Using simple words doesn't have to mean using small words. The length of a word is less important than how commonly understood it is. Sometimes your writing may call for larger words, but make sure you have a thorough understanding of the word's use and try to choose words your audience will understand. Again, if you are unsure about a word, look it up to make sure you have a good understanding of its meaning and how to use it.
    • Convey your ideas in the simplest way possible. Ernest Hemingway said it best when he said, "My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way."[5]
    • Use a thesaurus to find alternate words with the same or similar meanings. Be simple and concise without sounding repetitive by using alternate words.
    • Convey your ideas without adding unnecessary information or unrelated descriptive terms.
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    Write in your own voice. After you've studied the work of experts, it's important not to lose yourself in their methods. Adopt things that help you strengthen your writing, but don't focus on writing just like them. Everyone has their own voice or perspective, and yours may be exactly what a publisher or teacher is looking for.
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    Use descriptions and metaphors. Remember, length isn't necessarily a goal. The difference between, "the giant night sky was starry," and, "the darkening sky was a silent black dome to infinity, pierced by mystique white eyes of charisma, gazing down upon the mundane lives of mankind," is style. Style is a tool to support the kinds of quality writing you wish to create.
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    Use emotions to engage the reader. It's hard for some readers to invest in characters that haven't got a single ounce of feeling. Balancing reason and emotion is a way to create narrative tension and develop character. It's that tension that will draw readers toward your story and make them want to know what happens next.

Part 3
Revising Your Work

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    Give yourself time to edit. Revising is one of the most important steps in creating good quality writing. A first draft provides you with a framework to work with as well as a chance to put your ideas down. Good quality writing is often created in the revision process. [6] Make sure to set aside enough time to properly edit and revise your writing to ensure you end up with the highest quality final product you can. This may require making significant changes to your work, so keep your writing goals in mind.
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    Start big and work your way to smaller edits. Re-read your draft and make sure the organization works and that all of your points support your main thesis. You may need to reorganize the piece, add or remove content, or revise your thesis to match your supporting information.[7] Don't be afraid to scrap sections of your writing that don't work with the overall tone of the piece. If you have written enough material, you may not need to add to your work, but don't hesitate to do so if it strengthens the piece.
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    Proofread your work to catch spelling or grammatical errors. Once your content is organized and strong, read it again while you pay close attention to your word choices and sentence structure to make sure your writing flows and follows all of the appropriate grammatical rules. Take a little time away from your work and then return to proof read it again to make sure you can approach it with fresh eyes to catch small errors.
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    Read your writing out loud. Reading your word choices aloud can help to catch clunky sentences or places where you may have used a word too many times in close succession. Reading out loud will also give you an understanding of how naturally your thoughts flow from one to the next.[8] Awkward wording is easiest to catch when read aloud; if you stumble to get the words out, they may require revision.
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    Learn from your mistakes. The best way to get better is with frequent practice. Mistakes are bound to happen as you go, so learn from each issue that comes to your attention and focus on not making the same errors in the future.[9]
    • Don't get discouraged if a piece doesn't come out as good as you'd hoped. Try to identify the weak points in your writing and strive to improve upon them. Every piece you write is an opportunity to strengthen your weaknesses and identify areas that could use improvement.
    • Welcome constructive criticism as an opportunity to get better. If you focus on improving where you've gone wrong before, you will become a better writer with each piece you complete.
    • Remember that no one has ever succeeded without first failing. It's a natural part of the process and may happen far more often than your successes. Each failure is a step toward becoming the strong writer you were meant to be.

Writing Help

Sample Writing Exercises

Sample Metaphors

Common Grammar Mistakes Cheat Sheet

Article Info

Categories: Better Writing