1. Don’t use two words when one will do.
I love words, and I’m often guilty of running on and on at the mouth (and on the blog). Sometimes more words works better if you’re trying to make things flow or if it’s a stylistic device. But when you’re trying to convey a point or a message, less is usually more. When clarity is the goal, fewer words can make your message harder to misunderstand.
My second draft of The Knot was performed with this purpose in mind. I cut nearly 50,000 words off, just eliminating unnecessary words. And it’s still a big book!
2. Read Storyfix
Larry Brooks came over here slumming once with An Ode To Dangling Body Parts. Larry knows as much about writing as anyone. Better yet, while I simply dabble here and there, Larry’s entire blog is focused on getting you writing better. Highly, highly recommended.
Larry is also tall and strong and we’re going to start a band of giants. We need someone on the oboe. If you’re over 6’5″ and you know your reeds, feel free to apply.
Also, his new novel is awesome.
3. Read This
10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling. I typically read The Oatmeal to laugh at the art and the humor. But even though this article/comic features someone riding a manatee, the grammar advice is right on.
4. Ask someone else to read your writing
Another set of eyes can work wonders. I became blind to my own errors and wondered if anyone else felt the same. Once I tentatively pointed out a typo in a piece written by David Cain from Raptitude and he was thrilled to hear it. He works really hard on his pieces, but you will never catch all of your own mistakes. Never.
5. Write frequently, read frequently
This doesn’t mean blog frequently or write a zillion words a day. We get better at whatever we do. The more we write, the better we get at it. And the more we read, the more likely we are to internalize the way good writing works and transfer it into our own efforts.
Feel free to add to the list!
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