Have you ever struggled with writing an essay or a short story? We have all been there. With final essays and papers being due for the end of the year, here are ten tips that can help improve your writing, whether it's a researched essay, or a creative writing piece:
1. Read your draft slowly and out loud. You are familiar with your writing, which means you may often skip over and miss some minor error, such as a grammar or punctuation mistake. You think the paper sounds well-written, because you are familiar with your own writing. However, one thing you are not familiar with is the sound of your own voice. Ever record yourself and then cringe when you play the recording? Yeah, me, too. When you read your drafts out loud, you physically hear the words on the page, and you have to read every word written, which allows you to find any mistakes made.
2. Never use "very" to describe something. The professor or teacher would be dissapointed if you used "very" in your sentence. "Very" is a basic word, and to be honest, nobody likes basic words, or basic...anything! Also, there are dozens of other terms that can be used to describe something; you can always look up different terms in the online Thesaurus.
3. Make a sandwich. Not an actual sandwich, but a writing sandwich. When writing essays and research papers, your own words will serve as the "bread", and a research quote will serve as the "meat". When writing a new paragraph, start out by writing about your certain topic (make sure it's relevant to your thesis!). Have 2-3 sentences written. Then, introduce the person(s) you're citing, and then put in your quote (make sure you cite!). After the quote, explain the quote, and how it relates to the topic of your paper.
4. Show, don't tell. When developing a creative writing piece or even an essay, always show something instead of telling. If you are making an argument in an essay, show the research you found. If you are writing about a green squirrel who is mean to humans, don't say that the squirrel is mean to humans, but show the squirrel being mean to humans.
5. Know the ways of "They" Nothing makes people people cringe like someone misusing "they" in a sentence. So, here are the basics:
They're= They are.
Their= Usually referring to a something owned by a person. Example: "Their dog eats kale chips for second breakfast".
There= Usually referring to a place or position. Example: "The swamp? My uncle Shrek lives there."
6. Fancy words vs the right words. Diction is essential with writing essays or stories; however, diction is usually associated with "fancy words". Yes, it is important to learn and utilize a variety of words, but you don't want to be overload your paper with big, fancy words that no one will understand. Professors and teachers care about the words you use in papers, so make sure you use proper word choice.
7. Focus on the plot, the world will build itself. As a writer you often have an idea of building this fantastic world with everything a reader would ever want. In reality, there would be no world without a plot, and a poorly written plot means your world could lack quality. While writing, give detail to your setting only when your characters are there. For example, if your characters need to go to the haunted house at midnight, describe the house once they get there.
8. Never underestimate writing prompts. Writing prompts are great exercise tools for writers, because they make you focus on something specific. Every detail counts for your writing prompt, and you have to think. When writing about a certain topic, your mind cannot wander. While you do a writing prompt, you unconsciously train your mind to focus on just the prompt. The more specific the prompt, the better.
9. Convince the reader that your story is real. All writing must convey some sort of honesty. What draws readers into a good story is when they are convinced whatever is happening in the story, actually happened, or could happen. Your story must be believable, no matter how fictitious it may seem.
10. Start with the body paragraphs first. It can be challenging to begin an essay with an introduction. You should write the body paragraphs first, and make sure that each paragraph revolves around the thesis. Once the paragraphs are finished, it makes the introduction paragraph easier, because in the introduction, you can have a better idea of what you're going to talk about.