8 Tips to Improve Your Writing Style

April 30, 2008 by aaron

Your writing style is your voice on the internet. Do you speak like James Earl Jones or Napoleon Dynamite? Remember that your words on the page are all that stand between you and your reader. They should catch the reader’s eye and draw them in. The following tips will help you improve your writing style.

Find your voice.

While styles grow and mature over time, there should always be some continuity in your writing. The way you set up your ideas and interact with them as well as the words you choose to use all make up your “voice.”

Write to your audience.

Not only does what you write matter but also how you write matters. You may a write a fabulous technical brief, but if it informal and uses too much slang it will not be given the attention it deserves. This applies to everything, if you write about informal things, be informal. Grammar is important, but it is not more important than keeping the readers interest. Writing to your audience means that you will write about nature and wildlife very differently compared to how you write about mobile broadband providers or furniture stores. You need to be flexible, and adapt your style accordingly.

Don’t go so far as to always write the same way as you speak — there are too many idiosyncrasies in speech for them to translate intelligibly to writing — but don’t worry so much about the little things like having a preposition at the end of the sentence.

Choose a title that is interesting and closely related to the main idea.

Constantly people claim that your first paragraph and your title need to be full of keywords. This is true to an extent, but even more importantly, you need to make it interesting. As more and more readers use RSS readers to keep track of a lot of blogs, this is even more important to stand out when they are scrolling down the list of titles.

Be Coherent!

Many times coherency is assumed to mean writing about only one topic but it isn’t. Coherency within a larger essay or post generally requires one main topic, but inside of each smaller block of text coherency means writing in a logical and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Keep your audience in mind.

This applies to both how you write and what you write. If you usually write about technical issues, don’t suddenly start a series of posts about toilet training cats. In general, people have a certain tolerance about how often a writer can go off-topic. Some websites I read are for the person, but most are for the topic. if a writer goes off topic too many times, or spends too much time posting things that aren’t useful — like a new contest every week — I unsubscribe from the feed without looking back.

Good grammar is a good thing.

You don’t have to write like a grammarian and obsess over each comma and independent clause, but too many mistakes in too small of an area will leave even the most profound prose twisted, convoluted and unreadable. Using good grammar does not make your text boring. For most people the purposeful use of bad grammar isn’t artistic or trendy, so there really isn’t a good reason to not put in the little extra effort to make sure your commas are in the right places.

Write what you know.

Too many times I’ve read posts by people who obviously have no actual idea what they are talking about, they just regurgitate information they found elsewhere or are trying to make money off of the latest hot topics.

Write real content not linkbait.

Linkbait is okay once and a while, but too much of it and your writing style can be corrupted and you will lose all those links you gained. Remember, you are writing for people not search engines. Writing convoluted posts just so you can stuff in a few more keywords is not helping anyone. it may make you a little more money, but it won’t gain you real readers.

For every “linkbait” should be balanced by several real posts about whatever interests you. This will keep your hard-earned voice from being corrupted by the lazy, keyword stuffing style of linkbait writing.

Grow an ego

Talk to any English professor and even they will tell you if you want to hear the most self-centered BS you should go to a gathering of English teachers. These people are some of the best writers in the world. Their control of language is supreme and they can cut to the core of a person without even trying. Why? Because they know their voice, and they allow themselves to trust in it.

Part of being a good writer is being sure of yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are write or wrong as long as you are sure of the words you are writing. I used to advise my students that if they want their essays to sound the best, they should start from the assumption they are right and everyone else is wrong. All they had to do then was to prove it.

Image credit: margolove

Categorized as:
comments powered by Disqus