Last updated on August 1, 2016
Writing is hard – let’s just get that out there. If it was easy, everyone would do it. If you’re compelled, if this is your calling, then you want to hone your craft and do the best job at it that you can. While there’s lots of studying and practice you should be doing as part of your quest to master your art, here’s a quick hit list of target areas to focus on for instant improvement in what you turn out.
9 Ways to Make Your Writing Pop
Remove the ‘ly’ adverbs They’re weak intensifiers that aren’t working for you. Choose your verbs for power, be bold. You’ll see a big difference in your writing right away.
Less is more While it may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes less description has more impact. Over-explaining can drive your story into the ground. Don’t let a great description get lost in a wash of too-colourful prose.
Write like no one’s reading If you think too much about who’s reading, it’s easy to become less bold. It can make you become inhibited while you worry about what they will think. And when that happens? You’ll end up with something bland and not very exciting. Forget them and just write the words that others cannot say. Sometimes, they’re going to be insightful and sometimes, they’re going to be inflammatory. Don’t worry about it. Just write them.
Speak with one voice Check your writing for consistency in your point of view. If you’re hopping around all over the place, no one will be able to hear you and won’t be able to follow your story. A careful choice will help you tell the story, so don’t mess with your good thing.
Always know where you are Keeping your tenses straight goes a long way toward clarity. You may miss some when writing the rough draft and that’s okay. Checking for consistency in tense during editing is critical to keeping the readers’ head in the story. Don’t give them a reason to step out and say “where am I now?”.
Lose the clichés Do it. You don’t need them. You’re a writer, dammit. Think up something fresh and new for more excitement. Give them something they’ve never heard before.
Care about it If you don’t care about what you’re writing and your only goal is a word count, readers can tell. And they won’t care about what you wrote, either. If you’re tired and can’t commit just then, walk away until you recharge. Then come back and put your soul into it.
Use power words Choose your words with purpose and pepper your writing with power words to illicit emotions from the reader. Use these words for your own nefarious purposes and push them from one emotion to another – string them up on their nerves with a looming threat, charge them up with a jubilant triumph or build them up into a frenzy through a loathsome scheme. Don’t know enough power words? Find opportunities to expand your vocabulary and make power words another tool in your writing arsenal.
Be real In other words, don’t fake it. If you don’t operate at the level of a university professor in your regular speech, don’t affect a posture and attempt to write like one. It will sour everything you write and you won’t be able to grab your audience. Write from your heart, always, and you will win theirs.