Welcome Ed! It is so nice to have you here with us on our blog! Ed has come to answer the question “How do you improve your writing style?” Let’s jump right in and glean all we can from this seasoned author.
How do you improve your writing style?
When I first started writing, I didn’t know anything about style. Over the years, I learned about the power of dialogue – the superhero of writing – and I learned – sort of learned – about “Show Don’t Tell.”
One day after I’d been writing about ten years, I realized I had something called “my writing style,” and I think it’s still true today, twenty-six years after I started writing. This is my writing style:
I write for the ordinary reader, not for the literary market.
Even though I know that 85% of what is written is non-fiction, the gods have made me a fiction writer. I accept that and I’ve learned to apply fiction methods to non-fiction subjects.
I use a lot of dialogue and a lot of action. Most of my readers tell me my stories are fast-moving, page-turners.
I’m weak on setting the scene. The women in my writing group hammer at me with questions like:
“What is she wearing?”
“What month does this scene take place in?”
“What do the two people see around them? What do they smell?”
Here’s where I ‘Tell, instead of Show.’ I write “He sat at a big, messy desk. No windows or posters offset the plain institutional green walls.” I don’t give my reader a feel for the room.
So how do you improve your writing style? You don’t imitate someone else, that’s for sure. Even though it’s hard to see your own work objectively, you take the big rules of writing and examine your own work.
What are the big rules of writing?
~Show, don’t tell.
~Prefer nouns and verbs to adjectives and adverbs.
~Avoid the use of qualifiers — rather, very, little, pretty.
~Use the active voice.
~Put statements in a positive form.
~Avoid sexism. Use ‘inclusive’ language.
~Write to be understood, not to impress.
~Don’t overuse the verb “to be” (is) (was).
~Conflict. Conflict. Conflict.
~Read what you write—–out loud.
~Let your writing cool after the first draft.
~Cut the fat.
~Use the hero’s journey.
It’s easy to start thinking you can relax. Several people tell you they enjoyed your last book. “Hell, man, that book’s a page turner.” And “I couldn’t put it down.” Even though part of your mind knows this is not the whole story, you start to believe it and you don’t improve your craft. You don’t go to conferences. You ignore advice from your writing mates. You don’t read ‘how to’ articles.
At a writing conference, I walked into a workshop and was surprised to see the keynote speaker sitting there. She was a mystery writer and the workshop was on plot. When the workshop was over, I said, “I’m surprised to see you here. As a mystery writer, you must know a lot about plot.”
“You never stop learning,” she said. “You never stop learning.”
I have a lot to learn about using the five senses to improve my writing. What about you? What’s your writing style like? What do you need to improve on?
Find Ed online at:
Personal Blog http://edgriffin.net/
Writer’s Write Daily Blog http://writerswritedaily.wordpress.com/
Prison Uncensored Blog http://prisonuncensored.wordpress.com/
We want to thank Ed again for sharing with us how we can improve our writing style. We know you learned a thing or two today as well. Ed has quite a bit of knowledge and experience when it comes to writing. Remember: you never stop learning. Never. Please feel free to ask Ed questions or have a conversation with him about the questions he asked. You can post your questions here, on our blog, and we will make sure that Ed gets them.
K.R. and T.L.