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Some tips on fine-tuning one’s writing

January 24, 2019

Today’s column is thanks to Andrew Brookes, who is an editor at a digital content agency.

He has some suggestions for journalists and others who want to be good writers — and they make a lot of sense.

The reality is that good writing isn’t easy, nor should it be.

The fact that every man and his dog thinks he can write these days only serves to make the role of writers more important.

What follows are Brookes’ tips to help anyone fine tune his or her writing:

1. Read widely: The more you read, the better a writer you become.

Look at your competitors and become a voracious reader of newspapers, blogs, websites, magazines and books.

2. Keep it simple: Journalists often are encouraged to consider whether their parents or grandparents would understand their copy, stripping away unnecessary jargon and explaining terminology.

Always consider if your audience would understand what you’ve written and use short, sharp sentences without too many clauses to avoid confusion.

3. Bullet point lists: Google loves a bullet point list — and so do many readers. Use them to make your content digestible.

4. Use a thesaurus: Avoid using the same word more than once in a sentence.

Remember, a thesaurus is your friend.

5. Become self-reflective: Read back over things you’ve written, preferably after a week or more has passed.

Learn to critique your content and see what has and hasn’t worked.

6. Write for pleasure: Writers who keep their love for their craft will give you that little bit extra.

7. Listen to others: Good writers observe the world around them and channel their observations through the written word. Listening carefully to others will especially help if you write for an audience you aren’t part of.

8. Don’t be too precious: People will disagree with you as a writer. They’ll often fuss about one or two words.

You need a thick skin. Don’t be upset by the one word you were forced to change; be proud of the hundreds of others that are published.

9. Challenge your own writing: If you’re writing something and it feels wrong, it probably is. If you’re bored or confused by what you’re writing, then you can expect your reader to feel the same. Be prepared to question what’s in your writing.

10. Write it how you’d say it: Are you stuck? Think about what you would say if you were to explain this verbally.

Maybe write this out and then turn those words into something that’s much more appropriate in a written form.

11. Talk to other writers: A good team spirit and open dialogue between writers is important.

Writers can help each other through difficulties by suggesting possible solutions or maybe offering links to articles they’ve previously read or written for inspiration.

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