7 Tips to Improve Your Writing!

Hi, my name is Kat and today I’m going to share seven tips to improve your writing. So these tips I’m about share with you focus on words. We’re not talking about plot or character development or world building because I already made all those videos. Today we are focusing on prose, words, and sentences. If a completed novel is a big-ass castle, today we are going to take a closer look at some of these bricks. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Tip number one: show, don’t tell. This is one of those writing tips that gets thrown around a lot and I feel like a lot of people hear it and recite it but don’t really get it. First off, show don’t tell doesn’t apply it to everything. It mostly applies to emotions and senses. Most emotion words, angry, excited, happy, sad, these are straight up telling. For example, the man stood up angrily. You’re telling us that he’s angry, but you’re not showing it. How is he angry? What does he do as he stands up that makes it obvious he is angry? How about the man pushed himself out of the chair, his hands clenched into fists, the vein in his neck popping. That shows us he’s angry without using any words that mean angry. What I like to do is imagine my scenes as if they were in a movie. In a movie there’s no narration of he was angry or she was frustrated. We as an audience ascertain these moods from the characters actions. From what they are doing not from what we are being told they feel. Don’t tell me a character is excited, tell me that they’re bouncing up and down in their chair, smiling hugely and talking way too fast. Don’t just tell me a character is scared, show their fear through shallow breaths and tense shoulders and wide, alert eyes. Look through your manuscript for emotion words like this and try to find a better way to depict the emotion without saying it. Tip number two: use the active voice over the passive voice. This is another tip that you might hear a lot. You might also hear kind of the shortcut version to this tip which is to avoid words that end in -ing and this is because those words are usually weaker than their more active counterparts. He was standing at the front of the room is not as strong and direct as he stood at the front of the room. He was standing is passive. It sounds almost like it’s something happening to him whereas he stood is active, it’s him doing it. Keep an eye out for use of the passive voice in your manuscript. You don’t have to delete every sentence that uses the passive voice but really consider if it could be improved by changing it to be more active. Tip number three: to be or not to be? This tip is related to the previous one about active and passive voices and this is about the to be verb in its different variations: is, am, are, was, were. To be verbs weaken sentences in a similar way that words that end in -ing do and in fact, they’re often paired together. He was standing versus he stood. And again, you don’t have to avoid the use of these words completely, just be aware of your usage. Using the passive voice in writing is not always a negative thing. Consciously deciding to use it for a certain passage can actually work very well. Say your character isn’t a very active or straightforward character at all. Maybe they’re very weak and passive characters and your use of passive writing helps capture that. There’s always exceptions. I will never tell you don’t use the passive voice, you have to know when to use the passive voice and when to use the active voice. Tip number four: verbs are better than adverbs. This is another tip you might be familiar with through its shortcut version which is to avoid words that end in -ly. Adverbs are the devil or so I’ve heard from many people giving writing advice. Now I don’t think adverbs are the devil but I do think a strong, descriptive verb is better than a more generic verb paired with an adverb. For example, let’s take the sentence, ‘She walked lazily across the room.’ This could be improved by replacing walked lazily with a single verb that captures that same intent. She strolled across the room, she meandered across the room, she ambled across the room, she wandered across the room. Many verb plus adverb combinations can be replaced with a single stronger verb. Tip number five: no thinking. Speaking of strong verbs, you know what’s not included in that list? Any verb relating to thinking or realizing or remembering or knowing. There is a brilliant essay by Chuck Palahniuk which I will link in the description. Read it. This is not recommended reading, this is required reading. Read it. And it all just ties back into you what I’ve been talking about here, showing versus telling and avoiding lazy writing. Don’t have a character just realize something. Present those facts to the reader so that we can realize it. Tip number six: doubles are trouble. Sometimes word repetition can be used to great success, but more often than not using the same word multiple times in a short passage is just lazy writing. I read a fairly popular book a while ago that really abused this and it made me want to rip out my editing pen and just go to town. One particular moment that stands out is when I found four usages of the word arm over the course of two sentences and this isn’t a really terrible offense it’s just, it’s lazy writing. It’s something that happens a lot in early drafts. You know you’ll have a character approach a door and then open the door and then walk through the door, but in revisions you have to get rid of some of those doors. Yes, it is tedious work trying to figure out how to reword these sentences, but you gotta do the work. Don’t be lazy, do the work. And finally, tip number seven: choose wisely, young grasshopper. The overall theme for all of these tips is to be aware of every single word you write. Choose your words with care. As a writer you are making constant decisions. Be very intentional with your word choice and be ready to defend your choices if necessary. If I flip to a random page in your manuscript and ask why you chose that verb in paragraph 2, I want you to be able to tell me your reasoning. If you don’t have any reasoning, if you haven’t thought about why that verb is the best choice or not, then you haven’t made a decision. You’ve just fallen into something and yes, sometimes you might fall into something great without trying, but most of the time the perfect incarnation of that sentence or paragraph is going to require some thought, some work, some effort. It’s going to require you to make a decision. I talked earlier about passive versus active and here it is again. Don’t be a passive writer, don’t just let things happen. Be an active writer, be making decisions. Study a lot and read a lot and get really familiar with both good and bad writing because that’s what’s going to enable you to make the best decisions. All right, that is it. There you have it. Those are seven tips to help improve your writing. I hope this video was helpful to you guys, I know a lot of you have been wanting more writing related videos lately so I’m trying to do that. But, you know, disclaimer, disclaimer, please remember I am NOT a professional in any sense of that word. I’m not even a published author so take everything I say with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila. Just kidding, I hate salt with tequila. Just kidding again, I love salt with tequila. What was I talking about? But yeah, I will definitely be making more writing related videos, but please keep in mind that these take a lot longer for me to prepare. I actually script these videos out a little bit because, you know, I want to sound at least kind of smart in them. And also again, just to reiterate I am not a professional. You can get some advice from me, but you should also get advice from a wide variety of sources. Especially because doing your own research is really the best way to learn. Anyways, that is it for this video today so thank you very much for watching it. I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you have a great night and I will have another video soon so I will see you then. Goodbye! I did this, I did this to the camera why, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Wake up! Are you awake yet? Be a good blogger today okay? Okay. Friday night, home alone vlogging. This is the start of a very antisocial trend

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