Topics to improve writing skills include delving into grammar, transition words and phrases, and vocabulary. The first few sentences of one’s writing will alert the reader as to the quality of the work she’s reading. If it’s not good, it will discourage her from continuing to read, and the writer’s reputation will be in jeopardy.
Possessing good grammar skills cannot be emphasized enough, especially when your goal is to hook the reader with something interesting, and not letting her off the hook until the end of your writing. This takes skill, something that can be learned; the length of time it takes depends on the aspiration and inspiration of the writer.
Before we talk about grammar, I would like to share a conversation I had with a friend. I’ll call him Jay. Well, Jay was a beginning motivational speaker. In addition, he’d written a short book explaining the ins and outs of buying real estate. Before he self-published his book, he asked me to take a look at it. I did and found many grammatical errors.
Voicing my concern to him, he replied that he wasn’t disturbed about the errors, that people would understand his message, and that he would improve his writing skills by the time he’d written a second book.
“But your credibility is at stake!” I countered. “When people see these many errors, they’ll shy away from investing in your second book.” Jay did not care to listen, and his career as a speaker and writer floundered.
You’ve heard the expression, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Take this lesson to heart. Only come forth with your best.
The basics of writing rest with words. Grammar is the study of words and their activities in sentences. Grammar includes parts of speech.
The EnglishClub elaborates on the parts of speech. It categorizes English words into nine basic types:
Becoming familiar with these parts of speech by studying and practicing them will soon elevate your writing skills. For more information on the parts of speech, check out the EnglishClub site.
I will review some of the information here along with examples.
First, let’s start with a definition of transition words and phrases: “They are words with particular meanings that tell the reader to think and react in a particular way to your ideas. In providing the reader with these important cues, transitions help readers understand the logic of how your ideas fit together” (Transitions. The Writing Center).
Taraba outlines several categories, which list the types of transition words and phrases to which they belong. One category is that of Illustration:
We use transition words every day, but we're not often aware of what they are. Here, I will use three of them in sentences:
Using these transition words and phrases appropriately will step up your writing game. Now that you know what they are, you will easily spot them. And you will be able to use them appropriately.
If you are a serious writer or hope to become one, you already have a love of words. Treat them with proper respect by realizing their power. Practice building your vocabulary. You will find interesting words when you read, when engaging in conversations, or even when ear-hustling.
Notwithstanding, when you’re searching for words in the thesaurus, you’ll often discover many interesting ones. Jot the words down on paper or in your phone for future use. I found the following words while reading or listening. The list is short, but I have many more.
A mental sanctuary
What do you think of these? They should not all be clever or sophisticated or grand, but they should cause your reader to know instantly what you mean. In the name of creativity, feel free to use old words in new ways.
Let’s take the word extensible. I used it in one of my short stories that described a giraffe. I wrote that the baby giraffe, now at a water source, splayed her legs, lowered her neck, and drank by extensible means.
When describing a character, reach for something more than just an unimaginative description, such as:
He was a big man who wore a mustache.
Instead, creatively describe him, such as:
He was a mustachioed hulk of a man with lumberjack muscles.
When you focus on the above topics, you will be well on your way to enhancing your writing skills. There are many more topics to improve writing skills, of course, but you can start with these or add these to your writing arsenal.
Never quench your thirst for writing. Even seasoned writers still attend writing seminars, writing retreats, writing summits, and other venues relating to writing.
If you’ve made up your mind to write, write with passion!