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5 Quick Tips to Make Your Writing Instantly Better

From dissertations to personal statements and books to business reports, no matter what you are writing, it is important.  You have an audience to engage and ideas you want to communicate.  While using a professional proofreading and editing service will certainly give you an advantage, there are some easy steps you can take on your own to improve your writing significantly.

Below are my five quick tips to make your writing instantly better.

Tip 1: Replace "Thing" with What You Mean

This is perhaps the easiest though most frequently overlooked way to write in a more engaging manner.  While it is both common and acceptable to use the word “thing” when speaking, when writing it is always better to replace “thing” with a more specific word.

Here is an example:

Original:          “The thing that worries me the most is the way its roof sags.”

Edited:            “The problem that worries me the most is the way its roof sags.”

Tip 2: Try Un-Splitting Your Infinitives

Many people have heard that they shouldn’t split their infinitives, and most of them roll their eyes when they hear about it.  They imagine a nitpicking grammarian more bent on making a point than edifying his beleaguered audience.  This perhaps well-warranted reaction, though, will keep them from recognizing times when following the rule will actually improve their writing.  The reason for this has to do with where words are located in a particular phrase and the stress they receive as a result.

Here is an example:

Original:          “5 Quick Tips to Instantly Make Your Writing Better”

Edited:             “5 Quick Tips to Make Your Writing Instantly Better”

Tip 3: Auto-Delete “Very” and All Its Siblings, Cousins and Neighbors

Using unnecessary superlatives is very easy to do, extremely common and quite often overlooked.  I think it comes from an innate desire we all have to be heard and to have our opinions considered.  We want to add superlatives, believing, either consciously or subconsciously, that doing so adds weight to the words we are using.  What we do not realize—following from the idea I introduced in the previous tip on un-splitting infinitives—is that doing so affects how the stress falls on the words and actually dilutes the meaning of what we are writing, rather than enhancing it.  The better writing will let the unmodified words stand for themselves.

Here is an example:

Original:          “Using unnecessary superlatives is very easy to do, extremely common and quite oftenoverlooked.”

Edited:            “Using unnecessary superlatives is easy to do, common and often overlooked.”

Tip 4: Use Modifiers Only When You Mean Them

In the previous tip, I recommended avoiding using superlatives to make your writing more effective, but the same concept can also be generalized and applied to the use of all modifiers.  The issue is whether the word being modified would be just fine—and therefore even better off—without it.  Remember the point I mentioned about the location of words and how where they come in a phrase affects the stress they receive?  By extension, their location also affects how engaging they are to read.

The rule of thumb to use is this:  Does the word I want to modify already mean what I want without the modifier?

Here are two examples:

  1. “Rare” is already “extreme,” so it is not necessary to write “extremely rare.”
  2. “Magma” is already “molten,” so it is not necessary to write “molten magma.”

Tip 5: If You See “That,” Try Your Sentence Without It

As with using modifiers, using “that” in a phrase is often unnecessary, and in such instances your sentence will be more engaging without it.  There are, of course, situations in which “that” provides needed clarity, but what more frequently happens is that “that” is used unintentionally and, as a result, occupies space in a sentence without offering significant value.  When you find yourself wanting to write “that,” first try your phrase or sentence without it, then include it only if your meaning is unclear.

Here is an example:

Original:          “The joke that I wrote was only mildly funny.”

Edited:            “The joke I wrote was only mildly funny.”

Take Advantage of Our Professional Editing and Proofreading Services

As you can see from these tips, there are several quick steps you can take that will bring an immediate impact to your writing.  However, as you can also see, while they are simple conceptually, they are also far-reaching and may require practice to implement them on a regular basis.

It can also be challenging identifying every instance, not only because it is difficult to read your own work objectively, but also because some of these are engrained and you may end up doing them subconsciously.  This is one area where DLA Editors & Proofers can help.  Our professional editors and proofreaders have the expertise to identify ways to improve your writing that you might not see otherwise, and with our editing and proofreading services can show you improvements that will affect not only your current document, but all your future ones as well.

Posted in  Professionals
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