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100 Ways to Improve Your Writing



  • Author: [[Gary Provost]]
  • Full Title: 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing
  • Category: #books


This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.”

A friendly reminder by Gary Provost to all writers. Original inspiration from this article.

Statistics should be sprinkled like pepper, not smeared like butter.”

Stop to think about other word possibilities when you write, and eventually they will come so quickly that you won’t have to stop. (Location 289)

If you don’t have the respect of the reader, your writing will not work. (Location 302)

As soon as I have words on paper, agony departs. I love writing. It’s getting started that I abhor. (Location 420)

New highlights added November 8, 2022 at 9:45 PM

The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace is fun to read and rich with useful information. An effective online resource is refseek.com, which is a web search engine that acts as a directory of encyclopedias, directories, almanacs, and other reference resources. The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein is an excellent grammar guide. (Location 271)

New highlights added November 16, 2022 at 3:33 AM

You will get more writing done in an undisturbed hour than you would in a dozen ten-minute spurts. (Location 424)

A den in a noisy house would probably produce less writing than the backseat of a car in a quiet garage. So find someplace quiet. (Location 426)

If you keep a journal, you will grow as a writer, and you will find that sooner or later, no matter what you have to write professionally, your personal experiences will play a part. (Location 462)

do not continue to write after you become fatigued. A tired writer at the keyboard is in danger of writing drivel. If your eyes begin to droop and your head wobbles, stand up and do some more exercise. (Location 481)

Turn off the editor in your head. The exercise is not supposed to be polished prose any more than a warm-up run is supposed to set a world record. (Location 487)

an outline is just a list of elements you want to put into your writing, and for any story or article you should make some sort of list, even if it’s just three words scribbled on a scrap of paper. (Location 507)

When you write, don’t think about how smart you are; think about how smart your reader is. (Location 526)

Tie yourself to a specific idea about your subject, some aspect that is manageable. That aspect is called the slant. (Location 549)

A lead should be provocative. It should have energy, excitement, an implicit promise that something is going to happen or that some interesting information will be revealed. It should create curiosity, get the reader asking questions. (Location 577)

In your opening paragraph you set a tone. Your choice of words, your arrangement of those words, and your choice of information all convey to the reader some message about the tone of the story. (Location 625)

Cross out every sentence until you come to one you cannot do without. That is your beginning. (Location 653)

New highlights added November 18, 2022 at 11:00 PM

The transition should be quick, smooth, quiet, reliable, and logical. And it should bring to itself a minimum of attention. (Location 712)

transition is simply a bridge and should be used to carry readers as quickly as possible from one place to the next. (Location 745)

steal only a sentence or a phrase at a time. If you use much more than that, you must get permission and then give credit. (Location 790)

There are no good sounds or bad sounds, just as there are no good notes or bad notes in music. It is the way in which you combine them that can make the writing succeed or fail. It’s the music that matters. (Location 850)

So write complete sentences ninety-nine percent of the time. But now and then, if a partial sentence sounds right to you, that’s what you should write. Period. (Location 914)

A word that your reader doesn’t recognize has no power. (Location 1015)

Active verbs do something. Inactive verbs are something. You will gain power over readers if you change verbs of being such as is, was, and will be to verbs of motion and action. (Location 1023)

Sharpen a verb’s meaning by being precise. Turn look into stare, gaze, peer, peek, or gawk. Turn throw into toss, flip, or hurl. (Location 1041)

New highlights added November 21, 2022 at 1:16 AM

Be on the lookout for adjectives that are doing work that could be done by the noun. (Location 1061)

Write clearly and conversationally, and strive always to present in your writing some honest picture of who you are. (Location 1224)

New highlights added November 25, 2022 at 2:34 AM

Don’t write about the new bookkeeping system. Write about how the new bookkeeping system will affect people. (Location 1242)

I don’t care if the reader agrees with my opinion. The important thing is that he or she respond to it. If you can stir your reader up, then your writing has achieved some success. (Location 1266)

Use was when you’re talking about a fact or possible fact: “If he was afraid, I couldn’t tell” (I don’t know if he was afraid or not) and were when there is no possibility of fact (Beyoncé sings “If I Were a Boy” because she is not a boy). (Location 1535)

The point is that it’s bad grammar today, but it might be good grammar ten years from now. Today’s rules have no better shot at immortality than thee and thou had. (Location 1568)

Keep in mind that good grammar, even perfect grammar, does not guarantee good writing any more than a good referee guarantees a good basketball game. (Location 1570)

There is nothing virtuous about good grammar that does not work. Your goal is good writing. Good grammar is only one of the tools you use to achieve it. (Location 1591)

When your ear fails you and you can’t decide whether to add that comma, DON’T. (Location 1628)

The last word on this matter belongs to John Barrymore. He said, “A footnote in a book is like a knock on the door downstairs while you are on your honeymoon.” (Location 1840)

You should be willing to put yourself into what you write. (Location 1867)

Readers expect writers to be honest. Don’t let them down. (Location 1930)

A word is unnecessary if it’s doing no work, if it’s doing work that doesn’t have to be done, or if it’s doing work that’s being done by another word or phrase nearby. (Location 1987)

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100 Ways to Improve Your Writing