Tips To Help Strengthen Your Writing

Story and graphic by Hallie Neller

Writing doesn’t come easy for everyone; if you’re someone who struggles with writing and needs some advice then here are some tips for strengthening your writing for creative stories, poems and academic papers.

For Writing Creative Stories:

Use Strong Verbs. Verb choice can give more depth to the situation or the character. For example, run can be replaced with staggered, bolted, stumbled, sprinted, skipped, etc., and then the situation changes intensity.

Setting: be specific; be concrete. Don’t assume your readers won’t care about the setting. Let your setting impact the situation. Setting is also more than a location. It’s also culture, time period, historical movement, set of beliefs and norms, etc.

Story Opening: Establish setting (where), introduce characters (who), introduce motives/desires (what/hook), tone and voice, point of view and verb tense (when). Establish voice: this is the “personality” of character or story. Control the voice through word choice (dialects, jargon, “emotional” words), syntax (sentence structure: long, short, word order, fragments) and punctuation.

Get Feedback. Workshop your stories. Go beyond your friends and family for input. By workshopping, you can get insight on what you do well and what you need to work on. This can also help to brainstorm ideas that you need help fleshing out.

For Writing Poems:

Use imagery. Invoke all of your senses to help paint the scene. For sight, use words like gloomy, bright, foggy, vibrant. For touch, use sticky, slimy, woolly, gritty. Words such as squeaky, buzzing, whirring are good for sound. Juicy, sweet, spicy, bitter, can be used to describe taste. And words such as rotten, stinky, floral can be used to demonstrate smell.

Embrace metaphors. Use metaphors well and readers will respond on an instinctive and emotional level to your prose. A metaphor makes a hidden, implicit comparison that can give beautiful imagery.

Use language that people understand. When writing poetry, it can be very easy to get lost in the whimsical way of the words. If you dive too deep, your poem can get lost on your audience. By using language that your audience understands, your readers are less likely to get lost or confused and instead grasp what your poetry is saying.

Write honestly; don’t hold back emotions. Let your audience feel what you’re saying. If you put your emotions into your words, the words hold greater meaning and then strikes emotions in the audience.

Find unusual subject matter. Not every poem has to hold greater meaning about life or a person. A poem can simply be about a teapot, a shelf or a wall. Find something you want to write about and then write it.

For Writing Academic Papers:

Have a strategy/plan. What is your purpose? Do research in advance to make sure it’s a solid topic with supplemental information.

Have a clear purpose that answers the topic question. Terms such as inform, analyze, synthesize or persuade can help to identify what your purpose is.

Provide clear, logical and simple explanations. It’s easier to understand the purpose of your paper with the use of clear explanations to back up your thesis.

Use your own words. Don’t try to be too formal; use natural language that’s common for conversations (this does not mean to input slang).

Get feedback. This can help to make sure that you’re staying on track. This can also help with the development of your paper.