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How To Improve Your Writing Skills

1. Read.

Good writers are avid readers. Apart from helping your imagination to break borders and expanding your vocabulary, reading exposes you to different cultures and places * You encounter different styles of writing that can directly or indirectly influence yours * The more you read, the more you’ll learn how to structure your writing; sharpen your descriptive ability and master the use of figures and parts of speech.

If you want to be a better writer, don’t stop reading. Read at least one book every week.

2. Learn the basic principles of writing.

Writers write for readers and not for themselves. With that in mind, when you write, ensure:

• Clarity: the reader should understand your message easily.

• An Active Voice: your subject (the noun) should perform whatever action you are writing about.

• Short Sentences: long sentences can be confusing and you might lose the reader.

• Simplicity: don’t use words that are unnecessary or hard to decipher.

• Order: organise your writing in such a way that it develops and flows from one phase to the next.

You will pick up other principles as you keep writing. Don’t stop!

3. Write consistently.

It is straightforward; the more you do something, the better you get at it. Writing consistently will sharpen your writing skills and help you to communicate more effectively.

4. Use an outline.

You do not embark on a journey without having a clear direction of where you are going. In the same light, your book outline is a roadmap that will show you how to tell your story. What will come first? What will follow it? What will end it? This outline is the sequence of information or events your book will contain.

You need an outline to:

1. Understand your starting point

2. Separate the main points in your book

3. Set small writing targets

4. Write quickly

5. Know what content to develop

6. Plan chapters

7. See what your first draft will look like

Also, the 5Ws and H questions can easily help you summarise each point on your outline.

5. Edit your work.

Always do your first editing before sending your manuscript to a professional editor. Once you have finished writing, it is advisable to leave your manuscript for a few days or weeks before doing a read through with fresh eyes, putting yourself in the shoes of the reader and taking note of what to work on – grammatical errors, story structure, clarity etc.