The American author Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ is a memoir that documents his experiences as a writer and relays his advice for aspiring writers.
Here are 6 tips from his book that you can start following right away for your writing to be better.
1. Read a lot and Write a Lot
Reading is as much an investment into writing as writing itself. Reading is for you to understand the art of writing even though it is not done consciously. Yet, it is a learning process and every reader picks his own lessons.
Good writing… teaches the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creation of believable characters, and truth-telling.
Writing a lot, regularly and consistently, is what makes a writer confident and better. King, considered one of the most prolific writers of our time, says that he writes every day.
2. Write simply
Some writers have enormous vocabularies, says King, but it is alright to use simpler words. Simplicity communicates ideas better. So, you can chuck the big words and stop being pretentious… Umm that is, stop showing off.
One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
3. Pay Attention to Grammar
It would be rather obvious that a grammatically correct text is capable of putting the correct meaning across. Some writers may argue that they could never understand the complex rules of grammar. But sentences must make rational sense. So it is important to brush up on the grammar that we all learnt in High School.
If you can remember all the accessories that go with your best outfit, the contents of your purse, the starting lineup of the New York Yankees or the Houston Oilers, or what label “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys was on, you are capable of remembering the difference between a gerund (verb form used as a noun) and a par-ticiple (verb form used as an adjective).
4. Use the Active Voice
… and avoid the passive voice in your writing. King says that the passive voice is weak ;it puts forth information in a roundabout manner and is ‘tortuous’.
I think timid writers like them for the same reason timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe. There is no troublesome action to contend with…
5. Don’t use Adverbs
The words that modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs and ending in -ly are the words that a writer should avoid. You might think that you are putting in a punch when you describe things and situations with adverbs. Paradoxically, the use of adverbs tells us that the writer is not expressing clearly what he wants to communicate. The writer has not put in enough context or a backstory. King also advises that adverbs should be be avoided like the plague, especially in dialogue attribution.
With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid, he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.
6. Take care of the paragraphs
King says that writing is refined thinking and paragraphs help organize the subject matter. A basic paragraph has a topic sentence followed by support and description sentences.
Paragraphs structure the writing and the flow.
…the paragraph, not the sentence, is the basic unit of writing—the place where coherence begins and words stand a chance of becoming more than mere words.
And lastly, to inspire you furthur, Stephen King says about Writing…
I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.
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