When it comes to speech or writing, the substance doesn’t matter nearly as much as delivery. No matter how good the content is, it may still fail to appeal to the audience because of how it’s presented. Remember when people say they prefer style over substance? Well, this is one of those occasions.
Admittedly, achieving stylistic brilliance in writing requires considerable time and effort. It could involve the use of editing tools, like ProWritingAid, to help correct style-related errors and the application of tips for improving clarity and brevity.
Today, we will tackle some of the proven and tested techniques for enhancing writing style so that it appeals more to your target readers.
Tips for Improving Your Writing Style
Every once in a while, a writer needs to be reminded of the fundamentals of strong writing. The following tips should help you develop a solid style that improves your output significantly.
1. Keep it simple.
Let’s go back to the basics, shall we? Keep your words simple. Simple nouns, adverbs, verbs, and adjectives are inclined to have a broader scope of meaning. On the other hand, complex words stand for more definite expressions.
Hence, simpler words reduce the chances of conveying a message wrongly. If a word or phrase is too florid, try to replace them with one that is more familiar.
2. Avoid repetition.
Repetitive words or phrases are those that don’t alter the message of a sentence even when removed. They can be tiresome to read and make readers stop whatever they’re reading and move on to something else.
3. Keep sentences (but not all sentences) brief.
A great way to bring more clarity to writing is to curtail the use of complex sentences. If a sentence is too long or wordy, dividing it into two or more parts might make your points clearer. It can also keep your sentence from being a mouthful to read.
That said, this doesn’t mean sentences should be uniformly short. This could result in a boring style that leaves readers uninterested in reading further. You want to use your judgment to decide how to integrate sentences of different lengths together, as well as how to vary them.
4. Keep self-references to a minimum.
Phrases such as “I guess,” “I think,” and “I feel” are unnecessary. Most of the time, the context does not require writers to qualify their position on a particular matter to their readers.
5. Avoid the passive voice.
The active voice often leads to stronger writing because it’s more straightforward and needs fewer words to compose. It can deliver a point that requires six words to convey in the passive voice to just three words. That’s how pivotal it can be to developing a writing style.
6. Don’t qualify too much.
The occasional injection of qualifiers into your work lets readers know you are logical. However, going overboard with such modifiers removes the directness of your writing. It can make your writing sound unsure and bulky, without the actual substance to back it up.
7. Favor verbs over nouns.
While it’s true that noun usage gives the content a more sophisticated feel, it also removes its conviction. When you nominalize or turn verbs into nouns, you might also lengthen the sentence unnecessarily.
8. Don’t be vague.
Vagueness can keep you from producing excellent work. It can also prevent readers from understanding what a piece is trying to convey. Instead of letting readers focus on the style and important points, vague language leaves them guessing the author’s true meaning. Select words that specify and explain in detail whatever message you’re trying to deliver.
9. Observe parallelism.
Consistently expressing the similar elements of a sentence contributes to excellent writing. The concept of parallelism dictates that words or phrases alike in purpose should also be alike in formation.
Parallelism factors significantly in the development of style because it adds conviction and clarity. It also makes your writing read more smoothly.
10. Keep things gender-neutral.
As far as progressive writing is concerned, the concept of the masculine generic should be avoided. When referring to someone whose sexual identity isn’t specified, don’t let “he” or “him” be your go-to pronouns.
Since half of most general readership tends to be female, it is not only politically correct but impartial to steer clear of the masculine collective. You either want to shift from one pronoun to another every now and then or go for more gender-fluid expressions instead.
How to Become the Best Writer You Can Be
Great ideas mean nothing if they aren’t delivered clearly and powerfully. That is why it’s vital to not only focus on what kind of message you want to send but also how you want to send it. This captures not only your readers’ attention but also their hearts and minds as they read your work. One of the marks of excellent writing is lasting content, of which a direct and concise writing style is a major contributing factor.