There are plenty of tips out there to improve your writing, but these 4 changes have been vital to my growth as a writer. They’ve made my writing stronger and even helped prevent writer’s block
- Minimize “Said” and “Replied”.
Even published novels are guilty of overusing these. Sometimes it’s necessary to clarify who’s speaking and move the dialogue along, but to instantly boost your writing, give your character something to do while talking. This sets the scene and helps make characters more real, without boring descriptions.“I’m afraid to go,” she said. vs. “I’m afraid to go.” She wrapped her arms around her knees to stop the shaking. 2. Change of Sentence Length Paragraphs with the same sentence length are boring. When people talk, there is a natural variation in their rhythm; combining, shortening, or switching around sentences will immediately make your writing more organic and entertaining.
The wagon was blue. It had white trim. She got in carefully. “Let’s go.” She held on tight. vs. She crawled into the old blue wagon and said “let’s go.” The white trim flaked beneath her fingertips3. Banish Lengthy Character Intros It’s tempting to give detailed descriptions early on in your story so the reader can visualize correctly. But 3rd person descriptions interrupt the flow, and lengthy 1st person descriptions make characters sound narcissistic! Consider:
I am a medium height girl with tan skin, blue eyes, and a round face. My clothing is plain but fashionable and I rarely wear makeup. I keep my brown hair in a messy ponytail. vs. My messy hair falls out of its tie in wisps and my clothes aren’t appropriate for this party. But I ignore the suspicious glares, standing on my toes to see above the crowd. “Bold look.” I spin on my heel at the familiar voice to see my younger sister. Her makeup is flawless and her cocktail dress is a violent blue. “I didn’t know there was a dress code.” She smirks and pats me on my head, swishing her copper hair in a wordless insult of my own mousy brown.4. Use Active Voice
This last one is technical. Limit your use of passive voice. You don’t need to completely eliminate passive statements, but fitting in more active moments will punch up interest and make for a more engaging read.
The wine spilled on her shirt, making her scream. vs. He spilled the wine all over her shirt and she screamed in anger.
A hollow voice came from him. vs. He spoke with a hollow apathy.
While the coffee was cooling, strange thoughts filled her mind. vs. She waited for the coffee to cool and tried to sort her tangle of thoughts.