5 Tips for Writing in Any Style: Become the Writer You're Meant To Be!

By Shane Martin on February 11, 2019

The most quintessential part of college – writing – is not always as easy as your English major friend makes it out to be. Grammar aside, once you know what to write about, trying to put it into words can be rather challenging. Indeed, there are many different kinds of writing (creative, essay, personal), but at its core, the same set of techniques can be applied in order to improve the writing process, no matter what style.

via Unsplash

Active Voice Versus Passive Voice

The easiest habit to fix is using passive voice and exchanging it for its active counterpart. To avoid a professor-like explanation, here’s an example:

Passive Voice: “He is (was) running.”

Active Voice: “He ran.”

See the difference? The active voice is shorter, crisper, and more to the point. Passive voice usually utilizes “is, are, was, were,” and a gerund. This is not to say that passive voice should never be used, since it is sometimes good for exposition, and some writing requires a lot of that. However, active voice generally makes sentences easier to read due to its direct nature.

Repetition and Synonyms

One of the most dangerous things a writer can do is be repetitive, either with specific words or phrases, or with fully blown concepts. If the situation is the former, the solution is simple: use a thesaurus! The last thing readers want to see is the same word show up every other sentence, so be extremely careful here. I’d recommend the writer to just write the same word as many times as they’d like throughout the piece the first time around. On the first proofread, however, key-word search the overused words, and replace them with synonyms. To excel here even more, try to use words with an explicit connotation that can help illustrate a particular point. For example, if you’re talking about a historical (or made up) battle, and you’ve used the word “cut” a couple times already, instead of saying:

“The enemy forces cut down the defending soldiers.”

Try, “The enemy forces razed the defending soldiers.”

The word “razed” indicates total destruction and creates a more powerful image in the reader’s head than “cut.” Granted this is a rather simple example, but the point remains.

via Pixabay

Transitioning and Thesis-relation

Always make sure your transitions make sense, not only from paragraph to paragraph, but from sentence to sentence. Smooth transitioning can make a piece of writing look fluid, and once again, much easier to read. That being said, don’t overuse words like “furthermore,” or “therefore,” because as mentioned in the previous section, it will be noticeable: and not in a good way. Get creative with it! So if you think two ideas don’t come together from one sentence (or paragraph) to the next, there are two options:

The way from point A to C is missing point B. If this is the case, bridge the gap with either a transitional phrase or a new idea to connect the other two.

Or, the two really don’t make any sense together. Here, just take a step back and ask why they don’t add up.

Transition words are not the only way to make writing flow, which brings me to Thesis-relation. Before beginning to write, creating a thesis is imperative (as I’m sure many professors have said). Once this is done, look at the content of the writing and first ask, “does this support my thesis?” So if you think two paragraphs are quite far from each other, but you’re certain they each reinforce the thesis in their own ways, instead of trying to bridge the gap by relating the paragraphs to each other, simply relate them to the thesis individually.

Literary Devices

This is quite straightforward, actually. All those things like metaphor, simile, alliteration, personification, etc., that high school English teachers taught come in handy when writing almost anything. Sometimes they can be highlighted, like starting with a metaphor in an introduction and ending with it in the conclusion, or using an anaphora (the repetition of the same word/phrase at the start of consecutive sentences) to emphasize a point. Other times they can be more subtle like throwing in alliteration to make the words flow even better or alluding to something from a well known myth like Pandora’s Box (or even a lesser known one!) . Either way, these can seriously enhance a piece of writing when used sparingly and correctly.

via Pexels

Time Management and Proofreading

The best for last: proofreading. The best time to proofread a piece of writing is the day after completion of the first draft. This is crucial because looking at something with fresh eyes allows you to see things you would have most definitely missed after spending upwards of an hour writing. A peer edit can also be extremely valuable (at least an honest one).

Time management is a given here, because without it, anything and everything written is going to be less than it could be when properly approached. Some think “I write better under pressure,” which may be true, but just because you can write “better” doesn’t mean it’s your best. Your best is what comes from a relaxed outlook and an organized execution. Thus, if you are the type of person to write a third of the paper every day, leave a fourth day for proofreading.

Loves to write, game, and play piano. Loves fantasy T.V. and movies. Friends think he can keep up with them when playing basketball because he plays tennis.

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