Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 Useful Writing Tips

Here, I’ll share some useful tips about writing. Whatever the form of writing is, be it creative writing or technical writing, basic rules should be followed. My tips do not guarantee you to make you a Shakespeare, but you’ll surely be able to produce a decent piece of writing if you apply following rules.

Sort out the thoughts you want to express: Writing is a form of self expression. It’s a mean of communicating ideas. We talk to a lot of people and practice oral communication everyday; which is very different from writing. Oral communication is spontaneous. You speak as you think, so thinking and talking takes place simultaneously. Of course, at times you many have a specific plan of what to talk in mind for example during a presentation; but when you actually engage in a conversation, the mind has to generate ideas instantly. Feedback of oral communication is also quick and can be gauged through body language of the audience as well.

When it comes to writing, you have the time to arrange your thoughts and present them as you want. So, there goes the basic requirement of writing: You should have something to express, to communicate. Sorting out what exactly you want to communicate will help you to present your ideas clearly in the written format.

Stick to your topic for the sake of clarity: Do not deviate from your subject of your article by putting irrelevant information or comments. Unwanted information will make your article vague and unclear.

Watch out the length of the writings: An article shouldn't be excessively long that can bore readers; neither should it be too short which fails to provide any value and information. Editing helps in controlling the length of writings, which I have discussed later.

Avoid grammatical mistakes at any cost: Make sure your basics of the language that you are willing to write in are clear. However interesting your ideas are, if you make grammatical mistakes, readers will not appreciate it; it will make you seem like an amateur, irrespective of your knowledge and experience.

Avoid jargon: When I say “Jargon”, it indicates terminology which is not frequently used and need dictionary/reference to be understood. Putting a lot of literary jargon will not project you as a seasoned writer; in fact readers will not appreciate the article for which they have to search dictionary several times. Avoid unnecessary hassles for your readers by using popular and easily understood vocabulary. Writing complicated and unknown words will make your article vague and unclear and it would kill the basic purpose of writing; which is: To be read and understood.

Form short sentences: This should be particularly applied if you are a budding writer. Short sentences avoid confusion and are easier to understand. Once you get considerable experience and confidence with writing, you can play around with sentences as you want.

Follow a consistent tense: Follow a single tense through out be it past tense or present tense or future tense. Generally, for non fictional articles, present tense is used and for a narrative or a story, past tense is used. Decide which tense to be used and stick with it.

Edit your writings: Editing is vital step in the writing process, it’s often overlooked by some writers but the fact is; editing is as vital as the writing itself. You can correct grammatical mistakes, if any; restructure the sentences, add or delete information during editing. Basically, editing refines the writings. If you find it boring, ask someone else to edit your articles.

Take Feedbacks: This is crucial for writers, whether you are an experienced writer or a newbie. Have others read your writings, no matter how amateurish you think your writings are. Others will perceive your writings from a different point of view and will surely contribute constructively by their opinion. If in case you get appreciation from your readers, it will boost your confidence, if not; use your readers’ criticism as a tool for improvement.

Format your Content: Formatting is ignored and even considered optional by many, but the fact is: well written content attracts more readers. The value of the writing will ultimately be decided by the content but good formatting projects a professional image and indicates the concern of the writer for his article. Good formatting adds value to the writing just the way good packaging adds to the consumer products.

Maintain consistent length of paragraphs, leave enough white space (without it, the article looks clumsy; many would be intimidated and would even avoid reading it despite its useful content), use bullets and numbered list when required.

Those were some basic rules that form building blocks for creating a good piece of writing. Hope it was helpful.



Saravanan said...

Great one VJ...

My personal fav is "Taking Feedbacks" and taking them on a positive note. Most of the writers get emotionally attached to their writings :) They get very defensive when someone criticizes their writing...

"Creator" must disassociate from the "created" and take all feedbacks positively...

Sonia said...

I donno... with me, when words start popping outta my head, its like if I stop to make head or tail of what I am writing, I will lose all thoughts... :o)

Sriram V Iyer said...

this is quite an insightful post. i'm sharing this link with a few friends.


Vikas SS said...

Pretty neat a compilation... Over the years, I hv started giving more importance to edits and it actually does a lot of good...