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5 ways to improve your writing

by Dan Farrar

Need a few pointers to improve your writing? Brush up on your skills with writer Dan Farrar who shares his top five writing tips. Dan is currently studying a Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing with Open Colleges.

Whether you want to be the next Dave Eggers, or you simply want to improve your letter or essay writing, let’s explore 5 easy ways to make your writing better.

Cut unnecessary words that serve no function

The term for this is ‘Weasel Words’. A ‘Weasel Word’ is, in essence, an unnecessary word. For example “I received your long-winded memo about loud, aggressive and obscene music, and read it twice before deleting it”.

If you have a point to make and a limited number of words in which to make it, using plain English is your best bet.  Weasel Words just get in the way. I could have just said ‘stop using them’ I suppose, but alas, I have succumbed to the dreaded “WW”.

Split long sentences into shorter ones

Keeping sentences short essentially holds the readers attention. Keeping your ideas clear and understandable is vital.

Sentences that tend to drag on and on and on and on, like this one, get boring and the point is generally lost, confusing or angering for the reader.

Re-read. Re-Wind. Re-Write.

Proofreading is vital. After writing, take a break or go for a walk. Step away from the computer to rest your eyes, then come back to what you wrote.

You’ll be surprised what errors you can pick up with fresh eyes.

Stay on topic

Staying on topic is essential in keeping the reader focused on what is in front of them. Not only is going off on tangents confusing, it’s detrimental to the work you are presenting.

By outlining the points you want to make and sticking to them, your work (and the reader) will benefit.

Grammar police and “sound-alikes”

Using correct grammar is fundamental in writing something that makes sense. It’s easy to forget if you’re in a hurry or there are distractions.

You can never be too careful when it comes to making common mistakes but know that your work will be more concise with proper grammar. is a good website to get you familiar with homophones and homographs.

Becoming a good writer takes practice, and it doesn’t happen overnight. There are no shortcuts either, but by applying these 5 steps to your work, you will notice an improvement which will hold you in good stead for your next writing task, whatever that may be. Good luck!

Do you have a passion for writing?

Why not explore your interest? Open Colleges has a huge variety of writing courses available, ranging from professional writing and editing; to freelance journalism; crime, mystery and suspense writing; sports writing and so much more! To view the options, click here.

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