12 Tips To Clean Up Your Writing

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Being A Better Writer

Within a week I am writing my stories and editing blog posts, writing for homework assignments, writing daily to-do lists, and some personal and random writing. Needless to say that I write a lot. Many sorts of writing in fact. And with all that writing I have learned and am still learning how to make my writing better. 

One way to almost instantly make your writing better is to clean it up. Here are 12 tips to clean up your writing.

1. Delete Unnecessary Words

              Honestly, I couldn’t believe how many unnecessary words I was using to write my stories and in daily writing. When I started writing one of my stories, Between Today And Tomorrow I called my Naana for feedback and got more than I needed: her advice was enlightening. She was able to point out all the filler and unnecessary words throughout the story.

               As much as I knew my writing piece creating it, there were so many things that I did not notice. One of them: using (a lot of) unnecessary words. After removing many of the unnecessary words, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. My sentences improved instantly becoming, concise, smooth, focused, more beautiful. Thus improving my story. Try to avoid and notice when there are filler or unnecessary words within the story. Try to write concise sentences.

2. Repeating Concept

              As a reader re-reading, the same concept or thing is enough to make me not interested in the book. But as a writer sometimes I am not always aware if I have reiterated, repeated, and paraphrased, many times and unnecessarily. I have noticed that I tend to repeat concepts when I feel more information is needed, more clarification, to explain what’s going on, or to confirm what’s going on; If I feel the need to clarify, explain, or make things more obvious for the reader, my sentences or ideas may not be clear and focused.       

Repeating the same concepts over and over and over again can hurt your story. And I am not saying that it is illegal to repeat concepts and things in your story. But that doing so unnecessarily and too much can hurt your writing.               

The tyes of things repeated can range from large explanations to tiny details. For example, repeating that the main character is in a school in almost every sentence in that scene. Or explaining why a character is insecure after each event; Here are some tips to avoid repeating.

  • Figure out what you are trying to say & what you want to write so that you can start writing
  • Be more concise and size down the info
  • Separate the information into multiple parts and reveal them at different times in an effective way.
  • Hide references in dialogue
  • Get feedback on your work if needed.

3. Too Much Information

              Show don’t tell is a common saying and rule for writers. But there is such a thing as too much information. Putting in too much information in the wrong story parts can create a rigid storyline and shift the reader’s focus onto things they may not be the main focus.  It can also make a story confusing much like this sign.

              If a person has walked the movie theatre, I would want to write the description well so that my readers can envision where the character is in the room, feel the ambiance in the room, and know how the character feels in the room. So I describe according to these goals. But, I shouldn’t have 2 or 5 pages describing how the room looks. And Then 3 more on how the character feels.

              Details are great, but there are other things happening in the room and things that need to happen later in the scene. Does the character ever sit down? What movie is playing? Is the character alone?

Knowing when to expand on or shorten details and information helps to make a sharp story. Describe things based on what you want your readers to experience or on important things that you the writer want to put emphasis on or any other thing that is relevant to the storyline.

4. Pointless Information

              Likewise, pointless information hurts good stories too. The writer knows the most important things that need to take place in the story. And should also be aware of the things that don’t. Having too much pointless information can make a story disorganized and hard to follow.

5. Stuffing Sentences

              A basic sentence has a subject, verb, and complete idea. Beyond this sometimes sentences can get complicated. Complicated sentences that make sense are great and useful. But if that sentence is confusing to read or understand, then it may need to be broken down. Long complicated confusing sentences are like stop signs in the middle of a paragraph. They can make a paragraph or concept jagged.

              Complicated sentences are often stuffed with details, additional details, explanations, definitions, and insight. Some of these things may be necessary and others may not. Breaking down these complicated sentences if necessary and aim for them to be clear and concise. If there is a lot of necessary details, arrange them into multiple sentences.

6. Using The Appropriate And Helpful Punctuation

              Proper punctuation is super helpful for smooth reading, understanding tone, mood, and emotion, and easy on the eyes.  Punctuation can help the reader and writer. Don’t forget to use proper punctuation.

In fact, punctuation can help smooth out a stuffed sentence and make ideas and sentences clear; One of the main goals of a sentence, text, paragraph, or even story is to clearly portray an idea, that the reader can (eventually) understand what you mean and how you mean it).

Grammarly is a free tool you can use to clean up your sentences with proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar. It is one of the current 7 writing tools. Use this for creative writing and queries. You can also use this if you’re a student, like I am, writing essays, creative assignments, and more.

Use this link below to sign up with Grammarly.

The World’s Best Grammar Checker

Though I must add that while this tool is amazing when it comes to creative writing, the free version has its limits being too literal and correct. To have the free version adhere to your writing style you’ll have to dismiss a lot of suggestions and maybe add words into your dictionary. The premium (paid version) however is much better at this. So consider which plan is best for you.

7. Get To The Point 

              “Get to the point” is something I heard a lot about my work in school. I often “went around town” before I got to the point. And honestly, I felt that there were so many things to consider, and foundations to lay when speaking about a topic. 

              But I soon had to come to the grips that not everything mattered. Not at the same time anyway. So I had to decide which things were most important and be clear about what I am ultimately saying. And it’s similar to creative writing.

              Delaying making clear themes and messages that get lost in the hustle and bustle of a story is the perfect recipe for a story that says nothing. Don’t say everything or nothing. Say something. And if you have a lot to say (write), think about a way to structure all these things so that they convey your message

8. Know When To Move The Story Along

              Try not to keep your readers in the same setting, event, or emotions for too long. Knowing when to move a story can be hard or be very easy. For example, in a rags-to-riches kind of story, keeping your character for rags for too long of a time can make your character lose hope in a happy ending. But creating the right amount of tension between the two can make a very happy audience and dramatic story.

9. Don’t Write For Your Self

              Establishing an author’s platform enables you to think about your audience: When your story is published and released, they may be the first to read it and share it making it sell.

             The same things should also be considered when stories are being written. My work can be beautifully written and structured to me, but unappealing and hard to read to the majority of my readers. 

              Knowing why you write (in general) and why you want to write a specific story can help with this. If your reason for writing includes an audience other than yourself then they have to be considered. 

             Authors who write children’s books have to consider the children they are writing for heavily: If their audience is in the 1st grade, overusing college-level words in a 200-page book without pictures, is not the way to go. The book will be too complicated for 2nd graders to understand can

  1. Make it harder for the author to land a book deal
  2. Make it hard for their readers to like the book and be motivated to read it or listen to it.

               This doesn’t mean that authors and writers should write to please people. But, simply that they should keep their audience and readers in mind as they write.

I will not be the only one to read my published book and I have to remember that sometimes.

10. Read Your Work Outloud

              This is a tip that I love because it helps me tremendously. Sometimes I read my work out loud to hear if it makes sense because some things do sound better in my head. This tip works for emails, social posts, texts, and essays too.

Read your story out loud as if you’re telling it to your best friend or reading it to a reader. If things sound funny or confusing as you read make note of it. And if there are sentences that make you stutter or re-read them a couple of times, make note of that as well. Then when you edit your story you can edit your stories according to these notes and notices. These notes can be written on a post-it, in a writer notebook, alongside the story and etc.

11. Be Specific About What’s Going On And Where Events Take Place.

              This tip may be obvious but opposite from adding too much or pointless information, your readers do need proper information to know what’s going on. Remember in my first or second blog post how I spoke about a story that wrote as a kid. I mentioned how there were some words and concepts missing from the story because I wrote them in my head but not on the paper:

When writing a story be sure that the story is not based on what you already know and have in mind, but instead show what you want to say. Keep your readers in the loop if things change or when things start, end, or continue. 

              This advice still even applies to mystery stories or thriller stories. While they might not reveal all information at the beginning of the story plot, their readers should and often do know what’s happening right now. 

              For example, in a mystery story, the character’s name can be Clara and her boss’s name can be Joe. Clara can be a detective dedicated to solving a case that has the attention of the whole city. A case whose events are destroying the whole city as well. Until the end of the story, the readers and Clara can find out that Joe was the criminal all along. But for the time being as the story moves along, the readers should know what is currently taking place: Like when Clara has a new lead, catches posing criminals, or when she even is confused about who the criminal is. 

               The reader doesn’t have to know everything and not right away. But to follow the story they have to know what’s going on.

12. Make Sense

               And almost most importantly make sense. It is possible for a story to be exquisitely written with beautiful and prestigious ideas but also make no sense. Small details matter and can be game-changing. But what’s the bigger picture. Kind of like getting to the point. Except this advice addressing having a point at all. 

             When you are writing a story know what you are trying to do and think about how the paragraphs, chapters, sections, big events, and characters contribute to the storyline as a whole.

All In All

              No matter how hard I try (alone), my story may never be perfect. But knowing what makes my story better or worse helps me write a better story. It is really beneficial for me to be aware of how I write and of my writing habits. And really beneficial for you too, to be aware of your own. While there may be a lot of tips to consider, practice them one by one or a couple at a time. You can even take one aspect and look for that aspect in your story when you are reading over your work. Or practice these tips during writing exercises.

              To each person reading, these tips may apply differently: because there are so many types of writers, writing styles, genres, and so on. So when you go back through these posts to single out info, think about how they apply to you and your work especially. And how you could use them to make a great story. The first draft can be a huge mess sometimes, but if you clean it up you can marvel at the gem it is.

Until my next words (on here that is)
Christa

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