How do I improve my writing skills in a short period of time?
Assuming you’re proficient in grammar and spelling.
Perhaps the quickest way to improve the quality of your writing is by learning how to tighten your words.
These are good tips to tighten your work.
Eliminate fluff words.
interestingly, very, such, so, really, that, totally, completely, absolutely, literally, definitely, certainly, probably, actually, basically, virtually, rather, quite, somewhat, etc.
These words only congest your work and will make it more difficult to read.
Active voice is usually easier to understand than passive voice.
Passive voice is when the acting subject is placed at the end of the sentence.
In the library, reading a book, was Karen.
The car was driven by me.
Karen and ‘me’ are the acting subjects.
These sentences can be tightened by using active voice.
Karen read a book in the library.
I drove the car.
These sentences are also easier to read and understand.
Eliminate as many adjectives and adverbs as possible.
They aren’t inherently bad, but they can clog up writing quite easily if they’re not watched.
She wore the thick, green, loose shirt seductively.
There’s a ton of modifiers here.
The sentence can be written much better as:
The green sweater draped off her shoulder.
‘Sweater’ implies ‘thick shirt’.
‘Draped’ implies the ‘loose’ nature of the sweater.
‘Seductively’ is implied by the nature the sweater is worn (draping off her shoulder).
This advice can incidentally improve show don’t tell.
Group Similar Thoughts Together
This is often ignored because it’s not a quick fix like the others.
Sometimes when writing, tangents will be explored and we try to circle back to the original point.
It’s good to map out how your thoughts will transition, rather than rant.
Ranting will normally cause issues because you’ll forget important details or you’ll go off topic.
For more information on tightening words, check out my video on the topic:
A few points out of the top of my mind …
Well that is all that’s in my mind as of now, I shall chip in when some more thoughts stumble across my mind
Happy writing !
I used to run a writers group on Dalnet (extra points if you remember Dalnet) called “The Writers Club”.
One thing we did was called “Opening Paragraph Night” which was on Wednesday night.
There were a number of writers in the group, from the want-to-be-a-writer to published authors and editors.
One of the editors gave us good advice; she said she had to take home a stack of story submissions for her magazine nightly and she’d read them in bed.
If a story didn’t interest her within a short time, basically the opening paragraph or first 300 words, she’d toss it in the trash pile and start the next one.
So we started “Opening Paragraph Night”.
Each week we’d open discuss the genre for the next week, then everyone would start tossing out unrelated words that had to be used in the story opening.
It couldn’t be over 300 words and had to use all 5 selected words.
The following week we’d take turns posting and receive comments from the group.
Some of the exercises turned into complete stories and publication.
Because there were 3–4 editors of short story magazines, small press, in the group, it was possible to be asked to complete the opening and submit it.
A typical night would go like this:
Let’s do… scifi, horror, humor, romance, drama, etc.
Suggestions thrown around.
OK, we’ll do horror next week.
Now words? (20–30 tossed out, 5 decided on)
Alright we’re going with: orange, bear, electromagnetic, playing cards and election.
It was amazing the different types of stories that could be started using the 5 required words.
Here are some tips to writing short.
1) Make every word count.
Instead of saying that nasty mean kid in high school, cut it down to teen bully.
2) Be clear.
Even though you don’t have much space, you still have to get the story across.
If your character is acting badly because of his past, we need to know what that past is but just a very brief version of it.
Bitter divorce or smothering mother tells it all.
3) Cut out the fluff.
Yes, it’s nice that the hotel room has a marble tub and gold faucet and thick plush carpeting.
In a short story we don’t have the space for all that.
4) Be visual.
Instead of talking about the neighbor as Richard a little trick is to describe him.
The vegetarian fireman or the husband stealing blonde next door.
It will give the reader a better picture than just a name.
5) Focus on the core conflict.
We don’t have time for subplots.
Man robs bank; man runs from cops; man learns some kind of lesson.
6) Choose compelling verbs.
Struggles is more evocative than decides.
Wheezed gives a better picture than breathed.
7) Start off with a bang.
Get right to the problem or inciting incident.
Grab your reader right away.
You don’t have the word length to talk about how he/she is dressed or the weather or have chit chat with the co-workers.
First thing rob the bank, crash the car, or have the lovers walk away from each other.
8) Make us like your characters.
While a strong opening to a short story is essential, the characters are the glue that hold it together.
Remember to show not tell.
He was very tall and handsome vs looks that made woman turn and stare.
9) Choose your point of view and tense and stick to it.
Who is telling the story? The school teacher? Okay, tell it from her point of view and don’t change it.
10) Put your story in the proper order and have it make sense.
It should read smoothly.
“Mary bought some eggs.
Her brother’s flight was late.
Last week she got some bad news.
“ Confused? Me too.
from: Write Better Right Now: Creative Writing Tips