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How to Write Better: 7 Tips for Writing Engaging Prose

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 4, 2020 • 2 min read

If you want to improve the quality of your writing, there are a few concrete things you can do to hone your creative writing skills.



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7 Tips for Smarter Writing

Use these writing tricks and tips to elevate your prose:

  1. Don’t worry about your first draft. A lot of writers fall victim to writer’s block at the very beginning of a project. It can be hard to start writing when you’re staring at a blank page, not sure exactly where a piece will end up. At this early stage, it’s best to put aside perfectionism and just get your story idea down on paper. Start out by freewriting with a writing prompt or by building an outline. This can help you gain the confidence you need to complete a draft.
  2. Cut the fluff. Editing can transform good writing into great writing. When editing, look for scenes that don’t advance the plot, overly long descriptions, and anything that won’t sustain a reader’s attention. Whether you’re working on short stories, business writing, content marketing, or nonfiction essays, try to match the word count of similar published pieces.
  3. Rewrite, then rewrite again. Most great writers consider rewriting an integral part of the writing process. Writing a scene multiple times in different ways can help you distill these different attempts into the best writing you have to offer. Rewriting helps you work out any parts that don’t make sense or are illogical, which will help your writing sound smarter and more considered.
  4. Read your work out loud. Reading your work out loud will almost certainly make you a better writer. Embarrassing as it may seem in the moment, speaking the words out loud is a great way to notice the rhythm of your sentences and catch any unintended repetition or awkward word choices.
  5. Learn how to hook your readers. Your hook-writing style will depend on whether you’re a fiction writer working on a novel or a copywriter blogging for a company, but every good writer has a strategy for generating interest. Try starting your piece with an emotional scene or a surprising statement. The important thing is that your first sentence, scene, or page creates questions in your reader’s mind, encouraging them to keep reading. Beware of the obvious hook—spend time coming up with a thoughtful, unique hook that will make your writing sound smart, not gimmicky.
  6. Write concisely. Short sentences with simple words tend to sound smarter than long sentences full of big words. You don’t have to sound like Ernest Hemingway, but you should try cutting unnecessary language from your text. Often, it will make your piece more concise and authoritative.
  7. Use the active voice. When writing in the active voice, the subject of a sentence performs the action. Passive voice sentences contain subjects that are the object of the sentence’s verb. They are not the “doer” of the sentence; they are the recipient of an action. Sentences constructed with the active voice use fewer words and are easier to understand.

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