How To Instantly Improve Your Writing — Three Quick Tips

laptop sweater

LOL. Yeah, that’s one very creative knitter. 🙂

Hey everyone,

I can’t think of anything better than the following three quick tips which I’m never without as I write. At times it’s about heading back to the basics, and making sure the foundation of our work is steady and good. So, get ready. Here are three precious little gems to instantly improve your writing.

  • SENTENCE LENGTH

Oh yeah. When writing we can get so carried away with getting our words out, that our sentence length drags. My favorite thing, is to read my sentences out loud, particularly when a paragraph doesn’t look quite right. Try it. If you do, you’ll soon find yourself chopping long sentences right down.

There are so many benefits to this. Did you realize shorter sentences ensure the pace of your book picks up?  Were you aware your reader becomes more heavily engaged when that occurs? It makes total sense, right? Shorter sentences allow for a quicker pace, and as a writer that’s one of our goals, to ensure our reader keeps turning those pages.

  • TELLING AS COMPARED TO SHOWING

This can be an issue, and one we’re not even aware of. What to learn is, don’t tell your reader what your character is thinking, but show them with physical reactions. Even add more dialogue if necessary to accomplish this.

Here’s a short but sweet example of moving a sentence from telling to showing. To set the scene, the hero has lost consciousness after a hit to the head. He now awakens.

  • TELLING:
  • “I’ve been out for twenty minutes?” Confusion took him.
  • SHOWING:
  • “I’ve been out for twenty minutes?” He scrubbed a hand over his head, wincing as he struck a lump. “Did someone hit me?”

Switching to showing is about finding those words of emotion, and as you see above with the word “confusion,” nipping it out and showing with something else.

  • OVERUSE OF ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES

Never forget you want your reader to be immersed in your story. You don’t want them thinking too hard by the “overuse” of adverbs and adjectives. What do I mean by this? Here’s another sweet little example.

  •  OVERUSE. Can you spot the “unnecessary” adverb or adjective in the following sentence?
  • Jack stepped away, quietly propping his back against the wide trunk of the tree.
  • If you got the word “quietly,” you’re so right. It should read–
  • Jack stepped away, propping his back against the wide trunk of the tree.

Keep an eye out for any “overuse” of adverbs. In the example I’ve used, Jack is quietly propping his back against the tree. How else does one prop themselves against a tree except quietly? “Propping” is a casual, restful motion, so in this case the adverb “quietly” is clearly not needed when “propping” explains it all. Don’t get me wrong though, adverbs definitely have a place where it’s necessary. Just remove those ones you don’t need so your sentences can free up and flow smoother.

Now for a bonus. I’m going to share with you a new excerpt from PROTECTOR, my young adult/fantasy/romance. Check out the scene below. It’s all about showing and not telling. To set the scene, my hero is in the heroine’s bedroom, and her best friend comes charging in. All completely innocent of course. 🙂

The door flew open and slammed against the wall. Yeah, that was Silvie, all right.

“Ten minutes is enough you two. Now break it up,” she admonished as she stormed toward the bed, red-gold curls flying about her face. “Let’s remember we still have a villain to unearth and apprehend.” She turned, giving Davio a fierce glower. “What do you think you’re doing on my best friend’s bed? Get off. Off. Off. Off.”

“Yes.” He pushed himself to his feet and pulled me up to stand beside him. “Except, in the future, Silvie Carver, you will remember not to storm into the room the way you just did and disturb us. Correct protocol is that you knock and wait before addressing a prince.”

Silvie didn’t seem to care as she reached past him and gripped my wrist. She scowled at him and tugged me toward her like a mother bear protecting her cub. “Well, lucky for me, Davio Thy-prince Loveria, I do not have to observe your correct protocol. We are on Earth, you see, not Peacio.”

Hmm, and all this from the girl who’d told me just days ago that I needed to get laid.

I almost smiled.

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I hope you enjoyed that peekaboo excerpt, and if you still want more, then just below are the links to grab your copy of Protector. 🙂 So, what did you think of these three quick tips? Leave me a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you.

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PROTECTOR–BUY THE BOOK: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Lyrical Press / Kobo.

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14 thoughts on “How To Instantly Improve Your Writing — Three Quick Tips

  1. Good tips 🙂
    I do think that both adverbs and adjectives have their place though. Sometimes an adverb is the best way to say something. Also, if you take the adverb out, you still need to be able to show the reader how something is done, if it’s important to plot/character.

    1. Hi Clare. I should clarify it’s only the “overuse” or “unnecessary” use of adverbs I was referring to that need removing. Adverbs of course have a place where the writer needs to specify something important as you’ve said.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. 🙂

  2. Hi, Joanne. As always, great post. Love your examples. They are to the point and clear. Thanks so much.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    What a great post, and I loved what Sophie said because I’ve read tips by you and others and then giggled through my own stories all the while clicking the delete button for this or that.

    Something I was guilty of years ago when I first began writing was overuse of character names. To show you what a good sport I am and how I’m not afraid to poke fun at myself, I’d like to share a few lines of something I wrote about 20 years ago. I won’t tell you what’s wrong. You’ll see:

    ~~~
    Joe strutted into the room with his usual swagger.

    “I told you I could get Sadie to go to the party with me. You said she was too smart to date the likes of me but you were wrong.” Joe eyed Kate up and down, stopping at her chest and admiring the shape of Kate’s full breasts behind her snug sweater.

    “Maybe you should follow her lead,” Joe said.

    “I’d rather eat dirt,” Kate said derisively.

    “Suit yourself,” Joe said. Joe winked at her and left the room.
    ~~~

    By now I want to hit Joe and not because he’s clearly a jerk, but because I’m tired of hearing his name! But I didn’t hit him til after I smacked myself for not seeing something so simple as overuse of names. *sigh*

    BTW, the picture you used this time…I could NOT stop laughing! That’s a real gem!

    Thank you again for your wonderful posts 🙂

    1. Hi Cadence,

      Love that little excerpt, and that you shared. I want to hit Joe, too. LOL.

      You mentioned Sophie. She is so cool. I can’t believe how many great followers I have on my blog. For me this small space I have on the net is incredibly important. I love the personal connections, and I actually miss people when I don’t see their little faces and comments.

      That picture is hysterical. My mother’s a huge knitter and I showed it to her. She cracked up and said it’s like a tea-cosy, but for a laptop.

      Thanks for dropping by. Loooove it.

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