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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making a Writer Out of You – Some Helpful Tips to Remember


You have just decided to become a writer and are excited at the thought of getting published, which is very easy to do so now, thanks to the internet and some writers’ sites like I can assure you that it will be an exciting adventure – one full of interest, enjoyment, and reward for you.

Writing on the internet can be a very easy task as most people indulge in what is called “blogging” either on their own blogs or on other social networking sites. This kind of writing is usually very informal and straight from the heart or mind, without much regard to the correct usage of the language, grammar or even punctuation. However, to become a successful published writer and take it up seriously as a writing career requires certain skills, talents and techniques.

If you want to take up writing as just a hobby, for fun and enjoyment, and possibly to earn some extra money then you can take a much more relaxed approach without lowering your standards of writing. But, to become a professional writer or even a “good” enough writer to be taken seriously there are some standards that you need to set up for yourself.

Develop Your Own Style

One of the first steps in writing is to develop and cultivate your own unique style of writing. This goes a long way in building your own identity, reputation and helping readers to connect with you in a unique way. To be a successful writer, you need self-discipline, perseverance and serious commitment towards your writing in order to reap the rewards – enjoyment, personal satisfaction of creative achievement, and as we have seen on Xomba; a good financial return for your efforts too.

Know What You Write

It is always a good practice to write what you know to start with. It will show between the lines if you don’t (remember the Ernest Hemingway “Iceberg principle”, seven-eighths under water, only one eighth above?). Your prime function as a writer is to entertain your readers. Even if you are writing as a journalist or non-fiction writer, whose duty is to inform, you should be able to do so in an entertaining, readable style – which is what creative writing is all about.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

If you want your writing to be taken seriously, then I would advise you to put some efforts in studying correct usage of the language, grammar and punctuation. Have you ever read any article or passage without punctuation and lots of spelling mistakes? Let me tell you that it is very frustrating for the reader to read such a piece. Not only that, it also leaves a bad taste and an impression that this writer doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. The result can be disastrous, you could lose potential readers who may never come back to read any of your work ever again. Now, you don’t want that to happen do you?

There are many resources, and websites on the internet which could provide you with ample tips and tricks to writing well. You could also refer to online dictionaries and encyclopaedias for correct spellings and grammar. If you work on a word processor then always use the spellcheck facility. But, you need to keep in mind that certain words like “to” instead of “too” will not appear as a mistake and you will need to re-read your work in order to spot them on your own. Try to polish your work as much as possible.

Information Research – How to Approach It

Okay, so you have decided on a topic to write (congratulate yourself!). Now comes the difficult part of putting all you know together into a well written article. But wait, are you sure that you have all the facts and figures right? Whatever your chosen field, fiction or non-fiction – articles, plays, short stories or fantasy – sooner or later you will need to do some research.

It always helps to first jot down the main points that you are going to cover in your article. Check out all the dates, quotations, proper spellings of a place or name, or you may even have to trace some historical facts for a novel. All this requires adequate research that will almost certainly add depth and credibility to your work if you do it well.

So, where do you go for your research? Well, there are many resources at your disposal and it is up to you to choose the best method. You could go to a library for reference books, or use the internet.

The internet is a World Wide Web of information with websites which provide information at your fingertips: these include sites for academic research, government facts and figures, and specialist interest sites. For writers, it is an endless source of information on anything you wish to research.

Using “search engines” like can speed up your searches by leading you directly to the relevant pages when you type in a keyword. However, you need to remember that NOT all information online is trustworthy. Therefore, be on your guard. I would advise you to check out anything that does not emanate from a known, authoritative source. The best sources of information are government sites or the official websites of products or companies – basically, try to get information straight from the “horse’s mouth”.

Putting It All Together

You have done the research and collected all the information that you would need for your writing. You have all your notes ready. Now, finally, comes the difficult part of putting all you know together into a well written article. How to put it across?

1. The opening paragraph of an article is probably the most important part, especially the first sentence. It should achieve several things – immediately catch the reader’s attention, be relevant to the rest of the article, it should be a topical or novel statement and it should be interesting enough to lead the reader into the remainder of the paragraph and body of the article.

2. Keep your sentences short. The headline and your opening paragraph will showcase your entire article.

3. Paragraphs are very important. Always make it a point to break up your information into different paragraphs, so that it is easier to read and assimilate for the reader. Do try NOT to cram too many ideas into one paragraph.One point in a paragraph is enough. The lengths of the paragraphs can be varied.

4. The body of the article. The middle or the body of the article should be written in the same style as the opening paragraph and contain plenty of facts. Here is where all your research material will go, in a well laid out manner. Do NOT confuse facts with opinions. It is always best to leave personal opinions out of your writing, unless you are writing about your personal experiences under the category of “Diary and Journal”.

5. Add images, videos, graphs, charts etc. to your article, wherever appropriate, to make it more illustrative and colourful. An image helps not only to make an article more attractive to the readers, but also adds more value as it instantly provides an idea of what you are trying to say in words. Similarly, graphs, charts and bars when added can effectively illustrate statistics, facts and figures.

6. Revising is Important. One can never emphasize enough on the importance of revision. It is always best to revise your article thoroughly before submitting it. Read it at least once and check it for incorrect spellings, grammatical faults and lack of clarity. Be critical of yourself. Polish sentences and paragraphs to make them short and crisp. Once you are satisfied with the article, then go ahead and submit it.

Remember, you need to develop your craft as a writer in order to succeed in either the print media or the internet. Practice makes perfect, so the more you write, the better you will get at it. However, “presenting your work and selling it” is a different ball game and a much more extensive subject altogether which requires it to be covered in another article.

Original article on Xomba

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