December 20, 2023
Whether you are already a published author or you are new to the craft, seeking ways to become a better writer is a common pursuit of those who love to write. Since writers are gifted with their own unique talents, weaknesses and writing habits, the path to becoming a better writer looks different for everyone.
Some authors need help with endurance, some with technical aspects, and others need a bit of both. To amp up your writing skills, try out a few of our tips and tricks to help you improve everything from word choice to story structure to writing endurance.
One of the best ways to improve your writing is to focus on the quality of your chosen words. Sometimes authors slip into the habit of using common, boring, and “say-nothing” words in their writing without even realizing it. Skimming writing for these words and seeking the right nuanced synonym through your trusty thesaurus can assist in transforming the boring into the beautiful.
Basic words like great can be swapped out with one of almost 80 possible synonyms but be careful to avoid changes to the voice and tone of your writing in the process. A more precise word can improve writing in most cases, but always keep the purpose and audience of the piece in mind to avoid sounding pretentious or using a word that looks out of place in the context of the work.
A tried and true way to become a better writer is simply committing to writing regularly. Set aside time each day to write, whether it is 10 minutes or an hour, and hold yourself to doing it every day. Some days you may be cranking out book content while others are dedicated to smaller projects or testing out new ideas.
But consistency is the key. As you find the days, weeks, and months stacking up behind you, you will begin to notice new rhythms to your writing as you become more comfortable with an increased volume and higher-quality content.
Self-publishing authors often try to write, edit, and polish their work themselves, but sometimes one of the best ways to improve your writing is to get professional feedback. Hire a professional editor to review your work so you can learn from their practiced eyes and wisdom in the writing world. Books that are published traditionally may pass through multiple professional editors, so having at least one help with yours will not only improve your book’s final draft but also give you a chance to upgrade your writing abilities, too.
We are all creatures of habit in our daily lives, patronizing the same coffee shop, following the same morning rituals, and enjoying our free time in a similar fashion, day after day. But these kinds of familiar patterns in our writing can be detrimental to our writing skills.
Look for patterns in your writing like repeating the same phrases or using the same sentence construction over and over. Identify the three types of patterns in your word choices, adjust your writing, and then consciously avoid falling back on these patterns that make writing dull and uninteresting.
Taking a targeted focus on your writing content can lead to better writing skills. Laying the groundwork for a compelling story is critical to the plot arc rolling out, and the wrap-up of a story must provide readers with everything they need to make sense of the plot resolution.
One misstep writers make is taking too long or not enough time to introduce the story. Play with adding more detail if your story’s introduction is brief like new dialog or a narrative structure. If your beginning is longer, take out a section that includes key details, read your story without it, and then decide if those details are better served later on in the story or if they are critical for the reader to know right away.
The conclusion of a story is just as important for authors to study. Think about how the plot resolution is delivered to the reader and consider if the ending of the story is laid out in a way that wraps up each character’s situation correctly, if your ending could be changed to leave room for a sequel, or if leaving some details out of the ending might leave readers wanting more.
Intentionally reviewing different writing theories can help you use more complex and interesting styles in your own writing. The 3-act structure, the hero’s journey, and Freytag’s Pyramid are basic literary structures that writers of all abilities and experience use regularly, so understanding their nuances may help you improve your story construction.
If time and budget allow, consider taking a writing course to learn new strategies and get input from teachers and other aspiring writers. Online MOOCs are an excellent resource for free online coursework covering all aspects of writing.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your writing. Experiment with injecting the humor, biting satire, or easygoing, friendly nature that you are known for into your writing, so your work doesn’t feel clinical or emotionless. Your writing voice is something that will carry over between writing projects and not be constrained to just one piece, so focus on stringing the thread of your voice consistently through the tapestry of your writing.
It is hard to hear negative feedback about your writing, but when it comes from someone who writes often, has published a book, or has studied the art of writing, it may be worth listening. As much as we’d love to hear what a close friend or family member has to say about our work, good or bad, if they are not experienced writers don’t let praise or disapproval carry much weight.
However, experts can and will give you honest feedback as well as constructive criticism based on their experience, and ignoring it is a missed opportunity to become a better writer.
Up your writing with a change in perspective. Look for spots in your stories to swap out the viewpoint so readers can learn things through a different character’s eyes. By using a lesser-utilized character, your writing will necessarily have to shift to take on their personality and tone. Stepping out of your comfort zone to shift perspectives can help you improve your writing flexibility while also showing readers the story from an interesting vantage point.
Flex your writing muscles by letting your author’s viewpoint take a backseat to that of your readers. Think about the story from their perspective and develop content that they would want to see. What are readers anticipating in the story? Do they want or need more details? Putting the reader’s interests first encourages you to add, subtract, and refine the content based on what readers will enjoy allowing you to grow as a writer by learning to think differently.
We all have authors we look up to, maybe because they write a delightful beach read perfect for relaxing on a beach vacation or thrilling us with another installment of their mystery series. But if you want to become a better writer, add in books by talented writers who are applauded for their skill at the craft.
Read their work like a textbook, taking notes on the outstanding examples of word choice, sentence construction, narrative structures, characterization, and plot twists that make them great authors. Approach learning with a clinical eye to view the mechanics of excellent writing and put some of what you learn into practice with your own writing.
Professional editors, aspiring writers, published authors, and expert partners like Publishing Xpress all play a part in becoming a better writer. By working with, learning from, and contracting with those in the literary world, you can put yourself on the path to being a published author with excellent writing skills.
Being a better writer is a process, not a one-time goal, so give yourself time to try multiple strategies as you hone your writing craft. And partnering with Publishing Xpress to print your manuscript is the perfect way to show off your growing writing skills with a beautifully bound book, ready to bring your new-found writing skills to your readers.
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