The best way to become a better writer is to simply write. And even if you have been writing for years and have numerous books under your belt, you can always improve.
You have probably already heard all the typical advice: read often, write daily, learn grammar and style and so on. Here are a few more tips to help strengthen your writing.
1.) Read it out loud – This is the perfect way to catch if your writing doesn’t flow, or if you are missing a word or two. Hearing your words rather than just looking at them can change your opinion of your writing and expose potential flaws such as boring dialogue or unnecessary or missing words.
2.) Eliminate unnecessary words and repetitive words or phrasing – Many writers have a word (or two or three) that they use too much. I find I use the word “that” too often so I routinely search for this word (and many more) as part of my editing step. If I made an effort to watch for these as I wrote, then my editing step would be even easier!
3.) Don’t start sentences with “There was.” Though this could be appropriate sometime as there is an exception to every “rule,” most often you can rephrase your sentence to be more active.
Example: She looked out the window to see there were two big dogs chasing her cat.
Revised: She looked out the window to see two big dogs chased her cat.
4.) Avoid “due to” and “because of.” Add strength and clarity to your writing by eliminating these words. Simply, take the noun or phrase following “due to” and “because of” and make that noun or phrase the subject of the sentence.
Example: Due to the war, his business failed.
Revised: The war made his business fail.
Even better: The war destroyed his business.
Best: Wartime fuel shortages destroyed his business. (best because it explains what specifically damaged the business)
5.) Keep it short – I am talking about line length here. Studies show that people read longer lines faster. But you don’t want them to read your work fast. You want them to absorb what you wrote and to understand your message so keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
6.) Use Adverbs and Adjectives sparingly – While these words are used to help describe how something is being done (lazily) or describing a particular quality (wise grandmother) you can do better by using stronger verbs and showing how wise grandma is without coming out and saying it. As for the adverbs, you can do a search of your manuscript for “ly” and then delete or revise away!
The list of ways to strengthen and improve your writing could go on and on. Each of us has our own writing weaknesses. But by far, the best bet is to keep writing. Only through practice will you get better.