5 (More) Quick Tips to Make Your Writing Shine18:55
Editing is like being a magician. You start with a pile of words and end up with a book that will make readers laugh and cry. Line edits are one of the most important part of this magical process. This is where you take a good plot and turn it into great writing that will keep people glued to the pages until 2am. A couple of weeks ago, I shared five of my favourite tips to take your writing to the next level. Today I have five more quick tips to help your writing reach its best. These tips are also great to keep in mind when you’re first writing your book too.
Understand Your Vocabulary: The English language is filled with amazing words that roll off the tongue and make your prose melodious and memorable. And there are so many words to choose from. But be careful. Make sure you’re using those unusual and canorous* words correctly or readers might get confused as to what you mean. As a side note, avoid words that readers are unlikely to understand easily, such as canorous. Though they may sound beautiful, simple writing that one can actually understand beats the most poetic, complicated writing any day.
Canorous: Melodious or resonant. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Use Tenses Consistently: It’s very easy to slip from one tense to another when writing, even within a sentence, without noticing. Keep a weather eye out for tense switches when editing, such as “Jane walks to the shop. A zombie tackled her to the ground, intent on devouring her brains.” Switching tenses breaks the flow of prose you’ve been building up and jolts readers out of the story. Not to mention that it’s just not good grammar.
Remove Repetitive Repetition: We’ve all read writing where the author has been trying to build up a mood or scene over several sentences but has ended up saying the same thing twice, just in different words. This can be as blatant as “Jane ran away from the zombie. She sprinted down the street leaving it behind her.” Both sentences tell us that Jane is fleeing from the rabid zombie, just using different words to say it. In this instance, the sentences can be combined, or one can be deleted. A slightly less obvious example is this: “Jane screamed as the zombie approached her. She was utterly terrified.” Jane screamed because she was terrified. Thus there is no need to repeat the emotion in the second sentence.
Home in on Homophones: Homophones, or words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same, are some of the easiest things to get wrong. Spell check doesn’t always pick them out because the wrong word can be spelled totally right, and our eyes can skip over them pretty easy when skimming through the text. But there’s a great difference between aisle and isle, or side and sighed. Fixing homophone mistakes makes your writing much easier to understand and doesn’t leave your readers wondering what on earth you were trying to say about isles in the supermarket.
Use a Thesaurus (Sparingly): Have you ever been faced by a passage of writing where one word gets used over and over again? For example: “Jane ran down the street, away from the running zombie. She ran past a hardware store, paused, then ran inside.” See how annoying that is? Using a thesaurus to help find alternate, but not overly obscure words, can be a real aid when you’re having trouble thinking of another way to phrase a sentence. But don’t go overboard with it. You don’t want to look like you’ve been reading the thesaurus, even though you have.
These are five more of my best tips for sparkly writing. Are any of these new to you? What tips would you add to the list? Anyone interested in a part 3?