Whether you like to write as a hobby or are forced to do so in school, there are basics that every writer should know. Some claim that writing is a natural talent, but there’s always room for improvement. Even if you think you’re the worst writer ever, you can enhance your skills until you’re proud of your work. The next time you pick up a pen or tap on your keyboard, remember these basics that every writer should know.
1. Proper Punctuation
If you don’t know the correct way to punctuate your sentences, your stories will be difficult to follow. You need to use correct punctuation so that your readers know when to pause and don’t get confused by your sentences. Punctuation is especially important when it comes to inserting dialogue into your work. If Sally says, “I love my new dress,” make sure that the comma comes before the first set of quotation marks. If you’re having trouble, check out grammarbook.com. One of the basics that every writer should know is how to handle basic punctuation.
2. Annoying Adverbs
If you’re writing a short story or novel, experts agree that you should cut down on the amount of adverbs you use. Personally, I find adverbs incredibly, undeniably lovely, but I’ve found that they can be pointless. If you’re trying to describe how quickly someone moved, use a word like ‘they bolted’ or ‘sprinted.’ You can also replace your adverbs with metaphors or similes. The next time you write, try to use as few adverbs as you can.
In order to make your sentences flow, you should alternate between long and short sentences. It engages the reader. You don’t have to switch your length between every single sentence, but make sure that you have a variety. Too many long sentences in a row can bore your readers, while short sentences are choppy. So remember: variety is the spice of life!
4. POV, Tense, and Tone
Be careful when choosing a point of view for a story. Once you choose a POV, you want to stick with it for the entirety of the story. If you’re writing an essay for class, don’t switch tenses either. Keep a professional tone, unless told otherwise. Also, keep personal anecdotes out of your paper. You can tell your teacher the story after class.
5. Choose Carefully
Unless you’re writing an essay for a professor, don’t show off when you write. Use complicated words sparingly. You don’t want your readers to be flipping through the dictionary every time they read a sentence. If your main character is an intellectual, feel free to throw in all of the fancy vocabulary that you know. Just don’t allow your desire to impress readers with your words eclipse your story line.
6. Gifted Grammar
Most writing programs will alert you when you have a spelling mistake, so that should never be an issue. However, when you use the wrong form of ‘your,’ you’re not always corrected. Some programs will tell you if your sentence is grammatically incorrect, but it won’t catch everything. Always proofread what you’ve written. You’ll catch more than a computer will.
7. Make Mistakes
There are aspects of writing that many claim are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that breaking the rules is unheard of. Popular authors have broken big rules of writing and gotten away with it, because they made it work for their story. Writing is about releasing your creative energy, so if you have to, disregard the rules you’ve learned. Just make sure that you stick to the big rules, like spelling correctly and using appropriate punctuation. You want your story to be unique, not messy.
The next time you’re writing, keep these in mind. What do you struggle with the most when you’re writing? What mistakes do you hate to see the most when reading?