Many students develop excellent writing skills only because they like reading. Learn to read as qualified writers to use this important skill to improve your academic writing. Sometimes, students complain that they have no free time to read, but reading is crucial to learn to write at any stage of your education. If you don’t read other works, you risk losing a touch with different genres and general writing trends. Basically, writers who don’t read are no different from other specialists who fail to stay updated with the latest advancements in the chosen field. Reading provides you with great opportunities to observe themes, techniques, and other aspects used by authors to approach their works and learn from these observations.
Why read widely to improve your writing skills
All successful writers need to read widely both outside and within their genres. This is what provides them with a broader base of different influences to draw for their writing. Some students find it quite helpful to approach reading in a methodical manner. You can find many special reading lists both offline and online, and they are created for different writing styles and approaches. Make detailed plans for yourself and check books as you read them. Other students prefer more informal plans where they can alternate different time periods and genres. Reading from a range of times and cultures will add more richness to your writing because you bring perspectives and an increased sense of scope to it.
How to ...
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You should keep a special reading journal to record all personal impressions about the books that you read. Writing them as both a reader and a writer is quite illuminating. For example, you may read the book that seems clunky or unrealistic (as a writer), but you can’t put it down (as a reader). Evaluating how writers can tell the audience a compelling story even when getting other aspects wrong is quite a valuable exercise. As you read, ask yourself relevant questions, such as:
- What makes a book different from others in the same genre?
- What can you learn from it?
- Did you enjoy reading this book?
- Where is its place in literature?
- Do you think is should be placed in the canon?
- What are its weak and strong sides?
- What aspects can be improved?
Being a professional in your genre
Some people prefer to write crime or historical fiction, while others choose romance, but they all need to become experts in a particular genre. You choose a specific one because you enjoy reading it the most. However, it’s necessary to start reading with the writer’s brain. As you read, consider the following questions:
- How does a given book fit the chosen genre?
- Does it break any new ground or reinforce its clichs?
- How is this book regarding within a given genre?
- Do you disagree or agree with its prevailing assessment?
- Can you get any new insights about its genre?
For instance, if you like writing historical fiction, you may see that specific places and times are quite popular. Do they still seem ripe for other stories? Are they overused?
Examining the use of structure of other writers
To learn to write, read other writers and pay attention to their structures. As you read, focus on the points that they use to create a conflict and build more suspense. Determine whether they do it successfully and why their structure is effective. You can do a more formal exercise to study a lot about the right structure, but ensure that you write books in the same genre. As an example, if you’re interested in a murder mystery from different viewpoints, select the one written from them. Look for the interesting books that have a strong structure to learn more them.
It’s advisable to take notes if you want this simple exercise to be efficient. The simplest approach that you can choose is to divide all notes by chapters and their rough word count. It’s possible to get it by counting all words and averaging their number on one page. This exercise will provide you with a better sense of how long all chapters are and at what points specific events happen to push the main story forward.
To get started, you need to write a short summary of everything happened in every chapter in addition to its estimated word count. Pay attention to other aspects of book structures. If you like any multiple viewpoint crime novel, note what sections and chapters are in the point of view of specific characters. After you finish reading a book and take notes, determine where all turning points and major plot details happened and how authors introduce them. After doing this exercise with a few books, you will compare how their authors introduce their points of conflict and build more tension. Use your notes to improve the plot and structure of your writing.
Learning more about the character development
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Just like with a book structure, you can read with your eye to different characters. Try to determine whether they are easily believable, underdeveloped, or they seem like stereotypes. Give your personal suggestions on how to better develop specific characters. Choose a few interesting books for this exercise and ensure that they have quite compelling characters. Take into account some basic questions, including:
- How do all characters speak?
- Are their dialogues believable for their social status, age, time, place, and intelligence?
- Do authors describe their characters physically?
- How does this description fit and work in a book?
- Do characters have any background story?
- Is it effective and important for their development?
- What other writing techniques do authors use to reveal more about their characters?
Some of the most common techniques used by writers include the way other characters in a story react to a particular character, specific actions, and personal thoughts.
Examining how writer use their language
It’s possible to learn to write a great deal by examining differences in how writers use their language. Their writing styles vary considerably, from resembling poetry to effective and clean prose to the workmanlike sentences that do their job perfectly while lacking enough grace. Look at a sentence structure and determine if authors vary the construction and length of their sentences. Consider how it affects the entire experience of reading their books. For instance, one of the most popular techniques used by many authors is writing choppier and shorter sentences during any action scene to mimic the fact movements of characters. There are certain things that should be asked about the language of any book that you read:
- How can you describe its prose style?
- Does it really fit the type of this book?
- Is it more or less efficient than other suitable writing styles?
- How complex or simple is the sentence structure and vocabulary used by authors?
- Do these elements have any impact on your reading experience?
Reading as a reader or as a writer
Sometimes, even successful authors complain that they no longer can read books as average readers because they find it hard to turn off their brain and get emerged into a good story. From time to time, many writers have an interesting experience of reading the book that overrides their inner thoughts and returns them to the happiness of reading. This experience is definitely worth analyzing to determine everything that sets a given novel apart and makes it so engaging. Make this basic analysis to improve your writing skills.
If you feel pressed for time or you keep wondering whether reading for your pleasure is something that you must give up, the good news is that reading is still a significant part of having excellent writing skills. That’s because it keeps you current with the latest trends and educates you about literature in general. Besides, you can find out more about characters, prose, and structures from the works of other writers while shoring up your weak sides, so start learning writing from your reading.
How to master different mini-skills
To improve your writing, you should master a range of mini-skills. Practice these specific writing skills one by one to achieve this goal with ease:
- A sparkling and perfect sentence is one of the main components of successful writing, so you need to understand how to write excellent sentences;
- You can become more conversational if you include questions in your writing;
- Write smooth transitions to let readers glide from one sentence to another and from one paragraph to another;
- Know how to select flavored words and avoid the bland phrases that will only make your writing yuck and tasteless;
- Guarantee a perfect flow by either reverse-outlining or planning the entire content;
- Experiment with your own writing voice by adding a dynamic rhythm and changing punctuation;
- Include interesting metaphors to make all abstract concepts both entertaining and concrete;
- Practice the writing soundbites that can linger in the minds of your readers;
- Play with different mini-stories to engage the audience.
Developing helpful writing habits
If you want to learn to write successfully, it’s necessary to develop helpful and effective writing habits. Consider the following ones to speed up your progress:
- Get rid of all possible distractions, set a timer for any period, and do your writing work;
- Schedule special periods in your calendar to practice writing and try doing that at the same time on a daily basis;
- Apply an effective structured process to your writing, which includes editing, drafting, planning, and formatting correctly;
- Hold yourself accountable and write at least one paper or story on a weekly basis;
- Nurture a sense of play and try to experiment with a variety of writing techniques (for example, you can start with special creative writing exercises);
- Edit everything you write in a few rounds because the best piece of writing always requires a careful adjustment and checking.
Steps to improve your writing
Mediocre and dull writing always bores the audience to tears. On the contrary, the best writing content delights, engages, and inspires all readers. If you don’t know how to engage other people, start with the following steps:
- Use effective principles of persuasion in your writing to inspire readers to choose your arguments and points of view;
- Practice enough empathy or get the right understanding of how your writing can help readers learn something new or be entertained;
- Make your writing content more memorable and remarkable by including all kinds of vivid details that can breathe life into the main argument that you make;
- Make your advice and recommendations in writing more practical by demonstrating their usefulness with strong examples;
- Add more authority by including expert stats and quotes;
- Share valuable information by digging deeper into the chosen topic to reveal more secrets and clues.
Remember that all readers are always hungry for their comfort, inspiration, advice, knowledge, and ideas when it comes to any type of writing. That’s why you need to serve them with the best mix of your nourishing writing content.
Studying masters to find your inspiration
People aren’t born with their unique writing voice, just like other professionals aren’t born with their practical skills. You need to improve your writing skills by using tested and proven techniques, such as:
- Paying attention to catchy words in different sports reports, movie reviews, novels, and others;
- Study covers and titles to get a better understanding of writing strong and attention-grabbing headlines;
- Enjoying the sensory experience provided by poetry;
- Reading children’s books to understand how to discuss major subjects in simple words;
- Embracing serendipity because you can find your writing inspiration almost everywhere;
- Polishing your creative and persuasive writing techniques by studying the samples of professionals.
Effective methods to improve your creative writing skills
How can you improve or master creative writing skills with ease? In essence, creating writing is any piece intended for readers’ entertainment, although it may persuade and inform them at the same time. It encompasses song lyrics, fiction, scripts, poetry, biographies, and anything else that can fit basic creative writing criteria. Although it’s an innate skill, you can learn it through a number of helpful writing techniques. The good news is that there are many effective ways to learn to write creatively.
Taking your interests into account
First, you need to choose a specific type of creative writing that interests you the most. If you have interests in different forms of writing, start with the best one before switching to other areas. To determine where to start, think about something that interests and inspires you. For example, if you enjoy a specific genre, such as science fiction, imagine how you may write a given story differently to start mastering this genre. If you often pay attention to the word choice of favorite songs, you should focus on song lyrics. Tackle a small writing project in the chosen genre, such as a novella or story, instead of an epic trilogy.
Attending creative writing classes
To improve your creative writing skills, it’s advisable to attend special classes available in many places. Nowadays, many universities and colleges provide students with a great opportunity to improve their writing through the classes taught by adjunct or tenured professors (they usually last for about a semester). You can find many community colleges that offer a range of continuing education and non-credit classes for students who want to learn something new, including creative writing. Some of these classes last for the entire semesters, while others run for only several weeks. They can be taught by college professors or experienced writers in a particular community.
Seminars are also effective for your creative writing progress, and they are short classes held at a local community center or other places, such as a writer’s retreat, a civic organization, and a convention devoted to a specific genre. Such creative writing classes are often taught by experiences writers. Finally, it’s possible to attend online courses offered by community colleges or other organizations as special outreach educational programs. Some of them are available for free, while others come with specific charges that may range from a nominal fee to a substantial payment.
Reading helpful books on creative writing
Books on creative writing are very helpful because they cover a range of important aspects. For example, general how to books are designed to teach you the basics of mastering this skills. They often provide useful suggestions on how to structure your writing pieces correctly, include effective techniques on how to stimulate creativity, and offer expert advice. Technique-specific books are focused on teaching specific writing methods that you can apply in different genres. They also teach you how to build the necessary tension and structure your stories correctly.
Read genre-specific books if you want to understand how to write any specific genre, including romance, science fiction, mysteries, and so on. Genre-specific reference books share valuable information that all students need to know to create a realistic setting for their pieces of creative writing. For instance, fantasy and historical fiction writers read many books that cover life in the Middle Ages.
Attending special writing workshops
You should attend special writing workshops because they give you a unique opportunity to share your writing works with others and get a better insight of how other people write their pieces. Such workshops are often a part of continuing educational classes, college writing courses, and conferences or conventions. However, most of them require all participants to share at least one piece of writing with others.
Visiting writing blogs and joining groups
Think about following special writing podcasts and blogs because many talented authors share their interesting opinions there. Use such sources as your creative writing inspiration and education. Join the groups of like-minded people because they offer a great chance to network with talented writers who are willing to share their effective opportunities and techniques. Some groups are available only online, while others meet physically. Look for a good one in your local area or use your favorite search engine. The most effective way to improve your writing skills is to practice.
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