It’s time to go back to school! Not in a traditional sense, but by learning the basics of good writing. In this article, we’ll discuss proper writing conventions and how following them can help your work stand out. Whether you’re a student or teaching writing conventions, it’s always beneficial to brush up on the basics.
Define Writing Conventions
Writing conventions are an important part of grammar. They help to ensure that your message is clear and unambiguous. They also create a sense of professionalism and competence. The main writing conventions are:
Spelling & word choice can make or break a piece of writing. Mixing up a few letters, like in the words dryer & drier, can totally change the meaning of a sentence. One of the best-known spelling conventions in English is “I Before E, Except after C.” This rule is helpful for words like “believe” and “friend,” but there are many exceptions, such as “weird” and “ceiling.”
Other common spelling conventions include using a “silent E” to make a word longer (as in “make” and “bike”) or using a “double letter” to indicate a short sound (as in “bettER” and “runnINg”). There are plenty of similar words, like ware & wear, which are easy to spell wrong.
While these conventions can be helpful, they are by no means set in stone, and there are many exceptions to each one. The best way to learn correct spelling is simply to practice – and to be aware that there are often multiple correct ways to spell a word.
The most common writing convention is capitalization. There are many capitalization conventions out there, and it can be tough to keep them all straight. Here are a few of the most common capitalization rules:
- Capitalize the first word of a sentence.
- Capitalize proper nouns (names of specific people, places, or things).
- Capitalize the pronoun I.
- Capitalize the names of holidays and celebrations.
So, next time you’re unsure whether or not to use capital letters, think about which capitalization convention applies. And if all else fails, just go with your gut!
Punctuation conventions are the rules and standards that govern how punctuation marks are used in written language. While there is some variation in punctuation rules between different languages, there are also many similarities. These rules hold up no matter if you’re expressing your sympathy in a postcard or a scientific paper!
- For example, most languages use punctuation marks to denote the end of a sentence, and many also use punctuation marks to indicate pauses or emphasis.
In addition, punctuation marks can also be used to clarify the meaning of a sentence by indicating which words are important and which can be safely ignored.
While punctuation rules may seem arbitrary at times, such as when to place an apostrophe after an -S, they actually play an important role in sentence structure & writing process.
Grammar rules are the conventions of language that dictate how words can be combined to form correct sentences.
While there are many different grammar rules, they can broadly be divided into two categories:
- Grammar conventions
- Usage conventions
Grammar conventions are the rules that govern how words are used in complete sentences, such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun usage, and even basic paragraph length.
Usage conventions, on the other hand, dictate how words should be spelled and pronounced.
While grammar rules may seem like a mouthful, they’re actually essential for communicating clearly and effectively. Knowing grammar conventions is a key part of effective communication, so it’s worth taking the time to learn them.
Other Writing Conventions
Now we covered the main writing conventions, here are some unique conventions.
Narrative writing conventions
There are all sorts of rules to follow in narrative writing.
- First, you need to make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
- Second, your characters need to be believable and relatable.
- Third, your plot needs to be compelling and driven by conflict.
- Fourth, your writing needs to be engaging and accessible.
Persuasive writing conventions
Persuasive writing has its own set of rules and conventions. To persuasive write effectively, you need to know these rules and follow them. Here are some of the most important persuasive writing conventions:
- Persuasive writing should have a clear purpose or goal
- Persuasive writing should target a specific audience
- Persuasive writing should be backed up by evidence
- Persuasive writing should use strong language
- Persuasive writing should be well organized
- Persuasive writing should be clear and concise
By following these conventions, you can be sure that your persuasive writing will be effective.
Letter writing conventions
There are a few letter writing & postcard writing rules that everyone should know.
- First, always start with a proper salutation. ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ may seem outdated, but it’s still the best way to show respect.
- Second, avoid abbreviations as much as possible – they can be confusing and make you look lazy.
- Third, make sure your letter is clear and concise – its purpose should be immediately obvious to the reader.
- Fourth, sign off with a courteous closing, such as ‘Sincerely yours’.
- Finally, remember to proofread your letter before sending it – there’s nothing worse than a typo in an important letter!
By following these simple conventions, you’ll ensure that your letters are always well-received.
Basic Writing Tips
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 academic writing & persuasive writing for maximum impact.
1) Be Specific
One of the biggest impacts on the quality of writing is whether or not it is specific, so ensure you focus 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.
2) Be Detailed
Another factor that affects the quality of your writing is the description. Use the most accurate and descriptive terms possible, since they give your writing clarity and personality. Descriptive adjectives are the best way to add life to your writing. 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 your 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.
3) Be 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.
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.
Takeaway: Good writing is concise. It gets to the point without boring or confusing audiences, so eliminate unnecessary information or descriptions.
4) 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.
FAQs – Writing Conventions
As any English teacher will tell you, there are four important writing conventions: spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar.
There are a few key conventions that writers should always keep in mind: spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Of course, there are many other conventions that can be applied to writing, but these are three of the most important.
Put simply, formal writing conventions are language rules that enable readers to understand text. They include things like grammar, punctuation and spelling. By adhering to these conventions, writers can ensure that their essays are easy to read and understand.
Writing conventions are agreed-upon rules of writing used to make writing broadly clear. Many of these conventions are related to grammar, such as the use of punctuation marks. Others relate to the structure of writing, such as the use of headings and paragraphs.
Conventions in literature are features of a literary work that define its genre. For example, features that are common to most novels include a plot, characters, setting, and conflict.
Put simply, conventions are elements of a story that are predictability effective. They usually have an objective reason WHY they exist, whether it’s to provide information to the reader or to further the plot. Tropes, on the other hand, are elements that we see over and over again because they’re just plain fun. No matter how many times we see them, we can’t help but enjoy them.
So there you have it – some basic writing conventions to help improve your writing. By following these tips, your readers will appreciate the effort you put into making sure your grammar is correct and your spelling is on point. And who knows? Following these simple guidelines may even make you a better writer overall.