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Tips to Becoming a Better Writer — from a Terrible Writer

18 March 2016

From Medium:

I was a certified bad writer. I even had documentation to prove it.

Literally, legal documentation was ordered to confirm how terrible my skills were, I suppose, just in case anyone challenged this truth. My parents, or the school, or somebody paid thousands of dollars to have me tested, and then I became a certified bad writer. The document confirming my terrible skills was an IEP.

Ironically, I would have admitted I sucked at writing for a lot cheaper, but nobody asked me! Whatever. We pay people to tell us what we already know every day, so no shame there.

. . . .

 Therefore, all of my friends went away to college, and I went local to become a hermit. During the first two years of college, I did three things: I read, I wrote, and I exercised.

. . . .

 The growth of skill tends to be exponential on the front end and incremental on the back. This is not to say I’m so grand a writer, but it is to say that by applying the skills below, you can be. Some are great performers, some are great teachers, and few are both. I don’t know if either apply to me, but what I do know is that each technique below increased my writing skill dramatically (Meaning when others read my writing, they don’t immediately question if English is my primary language, anymore).

1. Become a murderer

Kill that filtering voice inside your head. Unfilter and unleash the creator within you. Edit after.

. . . .

 3. Shorter is better

The Flesch-Kincaid Score, developed by The Navy in 1975, calculates the readability level of writing.

Simply put, there are two parts to the Flesch-Kincaid readability test: The Flesch reading-ease (determines how easy something is to read) and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (determines the years of education one must have in order to understand a text).

Scoring a 5.1, means that your written text is at a 5th grade level.

Now the question remains, do you want to write at a low-grade readability level or a high-grade readability level? Think about your audience. To give you an idea from the article by Contently, here’s a few scores:

· Affordable Care Act — 13th grade level

· Academic paper about reading — 11.5 grade level

· JK Rowling — 5.5 grade level

· Stephen King — 6.1 grade level

. . . .

5. Write with your speaking voice

You have communicated this way all your life. Write the way you talk to avoid sounding stiff and robotic.

6. Add value with every sentence

Self-explanatory; cut the clutter. Move the story forward with every line. Ways to increase value are facts, anecdotes, humor, dialogue, etc.

Link to the rest at Medium

Writing Advice

2 Comments to “Tips to Becoming a Better Writer — from a Terrible Writer”

  1. Read the entire article, it’s good advice. Especially this:

    2. Grab your reader’s attention

    In any story, start with the most intense part- the arc. Start there no matter where it lays on the storyline: beginning, middle, or end.

    PS- This tip works amazingly for verbal storytelling, as well (“Did I tell you about the time I got hit by a car?”)

  2. How about, “I once held off 35 crocodiles with a stick!” (True story.)

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