Clean Up Your Writing

We love hearing ways to improve our writing. We all hope that our next book, story, or poem will be our best yet. In order to keep improving, we need to keep learning. We can talk for days about how to write better, but sometimes it’s the little fixes that make the biggest difference. I came across a list of ten helpful, simple tips for more effective writing on the website,The Financial Brand. The article shows that you can take your writing to a whole other level pretty quickly. Some of the advice is more geared towards business/formal writing, but there is still much to learn from it nonetheless.

1. “Kill The Passive Voice.”

When you use the passive voice, you tend to have to use more words to describe what you are saying. When you use an active voice, your word count decreases and your writing becomes more effective.

2. “Scratch that.”

Pretty simple- remove the ‘that’s in your writing. You don’t need them.


3. “Put your last paragraph first.”

You want to make an impression right away. Start your story in the middle of an important event or with an important scene from the end of your book. Then you can go back and explain the missing details, catching the reader up to speed. Sometimes you do not want to bore a reader with all the details first. 

4. “Dump the extraneous.”

This is more for business writing but it’s still something all writers should pay attention to. You don’t want to get so wrapped up in your own details that the reader is left trying to remember what is even going on in the story. Keep the story line moving forward.

5. “Keep it short.”

Again, this is an important tip for business writing. But, if you are left wondering if you are getting too far off track of your story then you probably are. In today’s society, people like everything quick and fast. They like to keep moving. Don’t leave the reader wondering when the story is going to end.

6. “Assume readers know you are the speaker.”

Once you establish who the narrator is, assume the reader knows that. Eliminate unnecessary pronouns, etc. 

7. “Depersonalize your writing.”

Put yourself on an even playing field with your readers. They shouldn’t feel like you are telling them what to do or think. They should come to those conclusions on their own by the details you provide and the dialogue you create. No one wants to feel like the author is telling them to do something. 


8. “Kill commas.”

If you have more than a couple commas in a sentence, break them up into different sentences.

9. “Reduce prepositional phrases.”

They only clutter your writing, eliminating them will reduce your word count- in a good way.

10. “Use stronger verbs.”

Sometimes it’s good to add a little spice and drama to your writing. Stronger verbs make a statement, which is also why you don’t want to overuse them and choose their placement wisely.

Simple and small fixes go a long way. There are many ways to improve your writing without locking yourself  in your office for hours picking away at one paragraph. Everyone has their own style and the above list may not work with some genres of writing or for some writers. It’s always most important to stay true to yourself. Write on.

2 thoughts on “Clean Up Your Writing

  1. KellyZ July 15, 2015 / 1:25 am

    My favorite piece of writing advice (from Strunk and White possibly?): Omit needless words.

Leave a Reply