Conventions and Style for Better Writing

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Once you’ve mastered the basics of grammar and tone for your type of writing, there are specific stylistic writing conventions you can use to make anything you write better. Here are some ways to improve your writing for maximum impact:

Specific

One of the biggest impacts on quality of writing is whether or not it is specific, so ensure you focusing on your subject. You don’t want to spread your focus across many different topics in one document. Stick to a single topic and develop it fully. If you are writing a longer piece, make sure the entire body is dedicated to one idea. You can have many supporting ideas included, but the focus should all go back to one main point or subject you are discussing.

Detailed

Another factor that affects the quality of your writing is description. Use the most accurate and descriptive terms possible, since they give your writing clarity and personality. You want to include enough detail to make sure that readers both understand your topic and that your writing isn’t boring. Details help make writing stand out. If you are writing a short story, a few small details about your setting or characters make your work interesting. If you’re writing a business letter, details about that new project you’re working on make a more informative letter than ones that gloss over the facts.

Concise

There can always be too much of a good thing. Don’t get so involved in adding details to your writing that you make it wordy or difficult to understand. Your level of detail and explanation should fit the audience.

Good writing is concise. It gets to the point without boring or confusing audiences, so eliminate unnecessary information or descriptions. To do this, you have to find the best word for each situation. Languages have so many ways to say things that many writers use long phrases to say something they could state with a word or two. Use the most accurate verb choice in order to eliminate unnecessary words. In this last sentence, I could have said leave out instead of eliminate and meant the same thing, but by using a stronger word, I was able to create a better sentence. Aim to do this in all your writing.

On the subject of description, you may choose to use a few key adjectives or adverbs to make your writing more interesting, but you shouldn’t use so many that you use them as a crutch, rather than finding the right word. While a few choice adverbs can help your writing, generally, they can be replaced by stronger verbs. Always review your adverbs if you are looking for ways to make your work more concise.

Active, Simple, and Varied

Good sentences are active, simple and varied. Active sentences use stronger verbs. For example, John walks his dog is active. A passive version of this same sentence may read, John is walking his dog. Active verbs put the stress on someone doing something, rather than stressing tense or objects. Attempt to eliminate all weak word choices in favor of stronger ones.

Simple sentences are much easier to understand than complex ones. Rather than using long, wordy sentences with unnecessary phrases, choose a simple construction that follows the subject+verb+object format. This makes reading your writing much less confusing, particularly for complex subjects.

Do keep in mind that simple sentences can sound very repetitive if you only use them, so while you should try to keep it simple, change your structures once in a while, too. Varied sentence structures can make reading much more interesting.