Writing tips

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Writing tips


Style Guide™: A writing tool for beginners with incomplete work

Writing Tips for Beginners and English as a Second Language writers

1.       Keep it simple; avoid big words

2.       Be clear about what you want to say

3.       Don’t repeat yourself

4.       Don’t get too serious

5.       Avoid using exclamation marks to emphasise a thought. It’s like shouting in someone’s face.

6.       Avoid capitals for the same reason

7.       Start with the important information in every sentence and paragraph

8.       Vary sentence length

9.       Keep clauses to two per paragraph

10.   Your first sentence should make the reader want to read on so make the reader curious

11.   Give the reader one character they want to egg on to succeed

12.   Make your main character suffer to show what he/she does when stressed (This relates to point 11)

13.   Make sure every object and character plays a part. If the sea is choppy show the reader how that influences the story’s outcome

14.   Make every word count

15.   Avoid using words for the sake of filling the page

16.   Write dialogue using words that fit the character or situation

17.   Keep dialogue short – 2-3 sentences at a time

18.   Do NOT give your character speeches. They are invariably horrible to read (this relates to point 17)

19.   Think of one person as you write and tell that person the story

20.   Draw pictures with words

21.   Describe the people and what is happening as if you are explaining the situation to a friend who isn’t there

22.   Read, read, read as widely as you can and keep reading

23.   Do NOT tell your reader how to think. For example a man wonders if a woman loves him. He asks himself, ‘I wonder of Zoe loves me….’ Leave it there and then go on to tell the story that shows she does or doesn’t. DON’T then write. Zoe loves him very much. Allow the reader to wonder with the character.

24.   Avoid sentences that start with or have in them, It was, it will be, to be, being… Keep away from any sentence construction that makes it foggy

25.   Understand how verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives influence a sentence.

26.   Use active language. Avoid drifting

27.   General rule: Keep sentences short so readers can skim read

28.   Ideally use a variety of sentence lengths

29.   To build tension make sentences increasingly shorter and tighter

30.   Then give the reader a longer passage at the end of the action so the reader can catch his or her breath

31.   Give readers time to take a breather every now and then

Specifically for writers with English as a Second Language.

1.       Aim for simple sentences.

2.       Subject or actor comes first followed by an action.

3.       Simple sentences contain a single thought

4.       Examples of a simple sentence are: The girl (subject/actor) hit (action) the ball (object)

5.       To make that simple sentence longer you can add more information that relates to the subject. Example: The girl hit the ball with a bat.

6.       When you (subject/actor) are learning (action/verb) keep it simple (idea)

7.       Avoid sentences with lots of clauses. Write two at the most and then start a new sentence.

8.       Linking words  (conjunctions) are words like the, with, because (tells why/how/what someone did)

9.       When you have mastered the simple sentence you can join two sentences with words like so, with, and

10.   When you get confident try making your sentences longer and add more information. For example: When (co-ordinator) the sun (subject/actor) shone (action) all the children (object) went (action/verb) outside to play (action/verb)

11.   Look for the verbs in your sentences. They will tell you if you have