I came across this post by Kian Ann recently on the need to write well on the Internet. While crafting some suggestions to him on the comments section, I decided that I might as well expand this into a blog post.
How does one write well? Is there a secret formula that you can apply in order to be a wicked wordsmith?
There are a few golden rules which I apply myself. However, they are definitely not prescriptive or exhaustive.
The first is to read and read often. Good writers tend to read widely both in their subject areas as well as other non-related stuff.
Next you should understand your audiences. Who are you writing for? Writing for Ah Sohs and Ah Peks is quite different from writing for tech geeks.
One should also strive to inform rather than impress. Throw out those bombastic high-sounding words which don’t ring a bell with the majority of your readers. Of course its a different thing altogether if you are writing for an audience of university professors.
Jot down notes (or at least a mental note) whenever something inspirational hits you. This can be when you are outdoors hiking along a nature trail, having dinner at a restaurant or even shopping.
Use a variety of styles and literary techniques to add spice and colour to your writing. A good way to do this is through employing analogies and metaphors. Personal stories and anecdotes help to further reinforce your points.
A good piece of writing has a certain rhythm and tempo. It has energy and perhaps even electricity. Like an orchestral performance, there will be peaks and troughs. See if you can write with a certain flow.
Write with passion, emotion and conviction. Penning persuasive prose helps you to better engage and connect with your readers.
Develop your own flair and style. This is what bloggers call their natural voice. Your paragraphs and sentences will read more naturally and less stilted when you write the way you speak.
Read and edit your writing at least once or twice – if time permits. Even those with superior penmanship revise their writing to be more smooth and polished.
Finally, as most writers will tell you, good writing only comes after lots of blood, sweat and tears. Perspiration, perseverance and persistence helps to make one a better writer.