15 Techniques For Developing Writing Skills

15 Techniques For Developing Writing Skills

Effective writing requires a writer’s adequate knowledge of language concerns and techniques for writing messages. Writers’ knowledge of language and writing techniques enables them to write skillfully and logically.

Adapting Language to The Specific Readers

Adaptation means fitting the message to the specific reader. While writing, the writer must keep in mind that all the readers do not have the same level of understanding. They do not all have the same vocabulary, the same knowledge, or the same mentality.

Thus, to communicate clearly, the writer should know the person with whom he wishes to communicate.

The writer should form the message to fit that person’s mind by using words that the reader understands. Adapting requires visualizing the reader, which means imagining what the reader knows, feels, thinks, and such.

Using Familiar Words

Using familiar words means using the words that most of us use in everyday conversation.

These words convey sharp and clear meanings in the mind. Complex and difficult words and words that do not communicate precisely or quickly should be avoided.

For example, instead of using the more unfamiliar word ‘endeavour’, use ‘try’. Instead of using ‘terminate,’ use ‘end.’ In the same way, we should prefer the word ‘use’ to ‘utilize,’ ‘do’ to ‘perform,’ ‘begin’ to ‘initiate,’ ‘find out’ to ‘ascertain,’ ‘stop’ to ‘discontinue’ and ‘show’ to ‘demonstrate.’

However, using difficult words is not always bad. They can be used when they fit the writer’s needs and are understood.

Choosing Short Words

Short words generally communicate better than long words. The use of wordy sentences, even if these are understood, gives an impression of difficulty that hinders communication.

But it is not always true that all short words are easy and all long words are hard. The suggestion is that in most situations, the writer should concentrate on short words and use long words with caution. It is suggested further that long words can be used when the writer thinks the readers know them.

Avoiding Overuse of Camouflaged Verbs

The writer should avoid using camouflaged verbs in writing. An action verb is changed to a camouflaged verb by changing it to a noun and then adding an action verb. Since camouflaged verbs are abstract nouns and they frequently require a passive form of sentence, they should be avoided to ensure concreteness and an active form of sentence in writing.

For example:

If we want to change the action verb ‘consider’ to a camouflaged verb we have to change the verb ‘consider’ to noun ‘consideration,’ then add verb ‘give, ‘ and at last we get camouflaged verb ‘give consideration to.’

Selecting Words for Precise Meanings

Certainly, writing requires knowledge of the language. In fact, the greater our knowledge of the language, the greater we are likely to write. Knowledge of language enables the writer to use words that carry the meaning that the writer wants to communicate.

Unfortunately, many of us treat language routinely. We use words without thinking about the meaning they convey. The result is vague writing. Good writers require studying words carefully. They should learn their precise meanings, especially the shades of differences in the meanings of similar words.

For example: ‘Fewer’ and ‘less’ mean the same meaning to some people.

However, the careful writer selects ‘fewer’ to mean “a smaller number of items” and ‘less’ to mean “reduced value, degree or quantity.”

Avoiding Gender-Discriminating Words

Our language developed in a male-dominated society. For reasons of fair play, the writer should avoid using gender-discriminating or sexist words.

There are some ways to avoid such sexist words.

  • First, masculine pronouns such as he, his, and him can be eliminated by rewording the sentence. For example, the sexist sentence – ‘the typical college student eats his lunch at the student corner’ can be changed to a nonsexist sentence like – ‘the typical college student eats lunch at the student corner.’
  • Secondly, the use of masculine pronouns can be eliminated by making the reference plural. The plural pronouns such as their, them and they refer to both sexes.
  • Thirdly, masculine pronouns he, his or him can be substituted by a neutral expression such as ‘he or her,’ he/she, you, one and person.

Using Technical Words and Acronyms with Caution

Every field of knowledge has its own technical language. This language can be so complex that in some ease specialized dictionaries are compiled. Individuals of a particular field need to learn its technical words and acronyms and later, use these terms freely in communicating with I other people belonging to that respective field.

But problems may arise when people of a particular field communicate with people outside their field by using their own technical terms. Though these words are everyday words to them, these may be unfamiliar to the people outside that field.

So, the writers should use their respective technical terms and acronyms with caution and replace their technical words with plain words.

Select Words with the Right Strength and Vigor

Some words are strong and vigorous. Some are weak and dull, and some fall between these extremes. Good writers know these differences, and they consider them carefully.

So, the writer should use the words that carry the best-intended meanings.

For example, the word ‘tycoon’ is stronger than ’eminently successful businessperson’, ‘bear market’ is stronger than ‘generally decline market,’ ‘boom’ is stronger than’ a period of business prosperity,’ and so on.

9. Using Concrete Language

Concrete words are those that form sharp and clear meanings in the mind. The writer should prefer these concrete words in their writing. Concrete is the opposite of abstract, which is vague.

Concrete words represent things the reader can see, feel, taste, or smell. For example, write’ a 48 percent loss’ instead of’ a significant loss’ or’ 100 percent attendance record’ instead of ‘good attendance record.’

Using Active Voice

The writer should prefer the active voice when making a sentence to the passive voice.

Active voice produces stronger and livelier writing. It emphasizes the action and it usually saves words. For example, write ‘He plays football’ instead of writing ‘Football is played by him.’

Avoiding Words that Stereotype by Race or Nationality

Words that label all members of a group by race or nationality are unfair. Members of any minority may vary widely in all characteristics.

Thus it is unfair to imply that Jews are miserly, that Italians are Mafia members, that I Hispanics are lazy, that African Americans can do only menial jobs and so on.

Avoiding Words that Stereotype by Age or Disabilities

Words that label people as old or young can produce negative reactions. Similarly, disabled people are sensitive to words that describe their disabilities.

Therefore, it is suggested not to use words that discriminate against age or disabilities.

Emphasizing Short Sentences

Writing simpler sentences largely depends on writing shorter sentences.

Research reveals that the more the words and relationships in a sentence, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding. The reader can not hold too much information at a time.

They generally prefer short and readable sentences so that they can easily read the message and hold the information from it.

Thus, writing short and clear sentences is recommended by limiting sentence contents and economizing on words.

Maintaining Sentence Unity

Sentence unity means all parts of a sentence should concern one thought. In other words, all the things put in a sentence should have a good reason for being together.

Therefore, the writer must ensure that all the information in a sentence belongs together.

Sentence unity can be maintained by:

  1. Eliminating excessive details,
  2. Combining only related thoughts and
  3. Avoiding illogical constructions.

Taking Care in Paragraph Design

Paragraphing is also important for clear writing. Paragraphs show the reader where topics begin and end. They also help in organizing information in the reader’s mind. There are some suggestions for designing a paragraph.

  1. First, each separate topic should be discussed in a separate paragraph.
  2. Secondly, the length of the paragraph should be as short as possible. Short paragraphs attract the readers and communicate better.
  3. Thirdly, unnecessary details should be avoided when writing paragraphs.
  4. Fourthly, each paragraph should move to an additional step toward the goal.