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How To Improve Your Writing Quickly!

Here are some quick tips and tricks to help you improve your writing! No matter what starting level you’re at or whether you need to make your writing better for the exam, personal or professional purposes, these points below will help you achieve clear, concise, and sophisticated writing with just a few small tweaks and adjustments.


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful and you’d like more help, you can take a look at our English writing courses here.

If you’re interested in this topic, here you can find more articles about various writing skills and techniques!


1. IDENTIFY THE PURPOSE(S)

Before you start, you need to thoroughly understand your purpose. What is your reason for writing? Are you trying to inform, persuade/argue, advise, or entertain/describe? You could also have a primary purpose — the most important reason — and a secondary purpose — the second reason. Different purposes require a different approach to tone, style, and technique, so be sure to understand how to adapt your writing to suit your purpose.

2. UNDERSTAND THE FORM

What type of writing is it? A letter, diary, email, article, advert story or speech, or something else? Each of these forms of writing has different conventions — a set of rules that are typical to that form. Letters, for example, will have a specific layout and need to be signed off with either ‘Yours Sincerely’ or ‘Yours Truly’, depending on whether you know the person you’re writing too. A speech should be packed full of rhetorical (persuasive) devices. Make sure you fully understand and use the conventions of your form. When you are at an advanced level, you can try breaking or bending some of these rules too, to create a more refreshing and personal style.

3. USE A THESAURUS

Don’t repeat your vocabulary. Also, don’t get stuck with a basic vocabulary as it limits your range of expression. Make sure to constantly be learning and memorising new words, and start trying them out in your writing. The best way to improve your vocab quickly is to get into the habit of using a thesaurus to look up similar but more complex and specific words. If you pick a word from a thesaurus, be sure to Google search how to use the word in a sentence before trying to use it yourself — it will make your writing messy and unclear if you aren’t using words correctly. That leads me on to another point: NEVER use a word that you don’t understand! Challenge yourself to use new words, but also use those words properly.

4. USE COMPLEX PUNCTUATION

Learn how to use commas, dashes, colons and semicolons — they make a huge difference to the expression of your writing. For a quick recap, here’s how to use the latter two:

SEMICOLONS:

  • Use instead of a full stop
  • Use instead of a conjunction (and, but, yet, for, nor, also)

Example:

I like Instagram but I prefer Facebook > I like Instagram; I prefer Facebook (suggests that the clauses are connected in meaning).

It was raining. I didn’t bring a raincoat. — two separate sentences feels like the ideas aren’t connected.

It was raining; I didn’t bring a raincoat — this feels like the ideas are connected.

COLON

  • Introducing a list e.g. I bought five things from the shop: bread, milk, eggs, cheese and apples.
  • Introducing a quotation e.g Orsino opens the play with an angry tone: “If music be the food of love, play on”. (this is called a POINT / COLON / QUOTE structure, or an OFFSET QUOTATION)
  • Cataphoric reference — when you are referencing something important that is about to be said e.g. Listen to this: I hate pizza.

5. IDENTIFY THE LEVEL OF FORMALITY

Is your piece supposed to be formal (serious, academic, important, intellectual), or informal (chatty, friendly, approachable, relatable)? This makes a big difference to your style and word choices. Make sure your level of formality suits the style you’ve chosen — you may also want to go for a middle position between formal and informal, incorporating elements of both to achieve a balance.

6. MESS AROUND WITH SENTENCE LENGTH

I’m serious! Short sentences are great. However, they’re also quite basic, right? If you use longer sentences you can create a lot more depth and variety to your pacing; especially when you combine this with complex punctuation. Aiming for a mixture of long, short, and mid-length sentences is the best way to get variety into your writing and also keep control of the pacing.


Thanks for reading! If you find this page useful and you’d like more help, you can take a look at our English writing courses here.

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