Many students develop excellent writing skills only because theylike reading. Learn to read as qualified writers to use thisimportant skill to improve your academic writing. Sometimes,students complain that they have no free time to read, butreading is crucial to learn to write at any stage of youreducation. If you don’t read other works, you risk losing a touchwith different genres and general writing trends. Basically,writers who don’t read are no different from other specialistswho fail to stay updated with the latest advancements in thechosen field. Reading provides you with great opportunities toobserve themes, techniques, and other aspects used by authors toapproach their works and learn from these observations.
Why read widely to improve your writing skills
All successful writers need to read widely both outside andwithin their genres. This is what provides them with a broaderbase of different influences to draw for their writing. Somestudents find it quite helpful to approach reading in amethodical manner. You can find many special reading lists bothoffline and online, and they are created for different writingstyles and approaches. Make detailed plans for yourself and checkbooks as you read them. Other students prefer more informal planswhere they can alternate different time periods and genres.Reading from a range of times and cultures will add more richnessto your writing because you bring perspectives and an increasedsense of scope to it.
You should keep a special reading journal to record all personalimpressions about the books that you read. Writing them as both areader and a writer is quite illuminating. For example, you mayread the book that seems clunky or unrealistic (as a writer), butyou can’t put it down (as a reader). Evaluating how writers cantell the audience a compelling story even when getting otheraspects wrong is quite a valuable exercise. As you read, askyourself 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, whileothers choose romance, but they all need to become experts in aparticular genre. You choose a specific one because you enjoyreading it the most. However, it’s necessary to start readingwith the writer’s brain. As you read, consider the followingquestions:
- 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 seethat specific places and times are quite popular. Do they stillseem 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 theirstructures. As you read, focus on the points that they use tocreate a conflict and build more suspense. Determine whether theydo it successfully and why their structure is effective. You cando a more formal exercise to study a lot about the rightstructure, but ensure that you write books in the same genre. Asan example, if you’re interested in a murder mystery fromdifferent viewpoints, select the one written from them. Look forthe interesting books that have a strong structure to learn morethem.
It’s advisable to take notes if you want this simple exercise tobe efficient. The simplest approach that you can choose is todivide all notes by chapters and their rough word count. It’spossible to get it by counting all words and averaging theirnumber on one page. This exercise will provide you with a bettersense of how long all chapters are and at what points specificevents happen to push the main story forward.
To get started, you need to write a short summary of everythinghappened in every chapter in addition to its estimated wordcount. Pay attention to other aspects of book structures. If youlike any multiple viewpoint crime novel, note what sections andchapters are in the point of view of specific characters. Afteryou finish reading a book and take notes, determine where allturning points and major plot details happened and how authorsintroduce them. After doing this exercise with a few books, youwill compare how their authors introduce their points of conflictand build more tension. Use your notes to improve the plot andstructure of your writing.
Learning more about the character development
Just like with a book structure, you can read with your eye todifferent characters. Try to determine whether they are easilybelievable, underdeveloped, or they seem like stereotypes. Giveyour personal suggestions on how to better develop specificcharacters. Choose a few interesting books for this exercise andensure that they have quite compelling characters. Take intoaccount 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 moreabout their characters?
Some of the most common techniques used by writers include theway 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 examiningdifferences in how writers use their language. Their writingstyles vary considerably, from resembling poetry to effective andclean prose to the workmanlike sentences that do their jobperfectly while lacking enough grace. Look at a sentencestructure and determine if authors vary the construction andlength of their sentences. Consider how it affects the entireexperience of reading their books. For instance, one of the mostpopular techniques used by many authors is writing choppier andshorter sentences during any action scene to mimic the factmovements of characters. There are certain things that should beasked 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 writingstyles?
- How complex or simple is the sentence structure andvocabulary 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 longercan read books as average readers because they find it hard toturn off their brain and get emerged into a good story. From timeto time, many writers have an interesting experience of readingthe book that overrides their inner thoughts and returns them tothe happiness of reading. This experience is definitely worthanalyzing to determine everything that sets a given novel apartand makes it so engaging. Make this basic analysis to improveyour writing skills.
If you feel pressed for time or you keep wondering whetherreading for your pleasure is something that you must give up, thegood news is that reading is still a significant part of havingexcellent writing skills. That’s because it keeps you currentwith the latest trends and educates you about literature ingeneral. Besides, you can find out more about characters, prose,and structures from the works of other writers while shoring upyour weak sides, so start learning writing from your reading.
How to master different mini-skills
To improve your writing, you should master a range ofmini-skills. Practice these specific writing skills one by one toachieve this goal with ease:
- A sparkling and perfect sentence is one of the maincomponents of successful writing, so you need to understand howto write excellent sentences;
- You can become more conversational if you include questionsin your writing;
- Write smooth transitions to let readers glide from onesentence to another and from one paragraph to another;
- Know how to select flavored words and avoid the bland phrasesthat will only make your writing yuck and tasteless;
- Guarantee a perfect flow by either reverse-outlining orplanning the entire content;
- Experiment with your own writing voice by adding a dynamicrhythm and changing punctuation;
- Include interesting metaphors to make all abstract conceptsboth entertaining and concrete;
- Practice the writing soundbites that can linger in the mindsof 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 todevelop helpful and effective writing habits. Consider thefollowing ones to speed up your progress:
- Get rid of all possible distractions, set a timer for anyperiod, and do your writing work;
- Schedule special periods in your calendar to practice writingand try doing that at the same time on a daily basis;
- Apply an effective structured process to your writing, whichincludes editing, drafting, planning, and formatting correctly;
- Hold yourself accountable and write at least one paper orstory on a weekly basis;
- Nurture a sense of play and try to experiment with a varietyof writing techniques (for example, you can start with specialcreative writing exercises);
- Edit everything you write in a few rounds because the bestpiece of writing always requires a careful adjustment andchecking.
Steps to improve your writing
Mediocre and dull writing always bores the audience to tears. Onthe contrary, the best writing content delights, engages, andinspires all readers. If you don’t know how to engage otherpeople, start with the following steps:
- Use effective principles of persuasion in your writing toinspire readers to choose your arguments and points of view;
- Practice enough empathy or get the right understanding of howyour writing can help readers learn something new or beentertained;
- Make your writing content more memorable and remarkable byincluding all kinds of vivid details that can breathe life intothe main argument that you make;
- Make your advice and recommendations in writing morepractical by demonstrating their usefulness with strong examples;
- Add more authority by including expert stats and quotes;
- Share valuable information by digging deeper into the chosentopic 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 anytype of writing. That’s why you need to serve them with the bestmix of your nourishing writing content.
Studying masters to find your inspiration
People aren’t born with their unique writing voice, just likeother professionals aren’t born with their practical skills. Youneed to improve your writing skills by using tested and proventechniques, 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 ofwriting strong and attention-grabbing headlines;
- Enjoying the sensory experience provided by poetry;
- Reading children’s books to understand how to discuss majorsubjects in simple words;
- Embracing serendipity because you can find your writinginspiration almost everywhere;
- Polishing your creative and persuasive writing techniques bystudying 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 thesame time. It encompasses song lyrics, fiction, scripts, poetry,biographies, and anything else that can fit basic creativewriting criteria. Although it’s an innate skill, you can learn itthrough a number of helpful writing techniques. The good news isthat 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 writingthat interests you the most. If you have interests in differentforms of writing, start with the best one before switching toother areas. To determine where to start, think about somethingthat interests and inspires you. For example, if you enjoy aspecific genre, such as science fiction, imagine how you maywrite a given story differently to start mastering this genre. Ifyou often pay attention to the word choice of favorite songs, youshould focus on song lyrics. Tackle a small writing project inthe chosen genre, such as a novella or story, instead of an epictrilogy.
Attending creative writing classes
To improve your creative writing skills, it’s advisable to attendspecial classes available in many places. Nowadays, manyuniversities and colleges provide students with a greatopportunity to improve their writing through the classes taughtby adjunct or tenured professors (they usually last for about asemester). You can find many community colleges that offer arange of continuing education and non-credit classes for studentswho want to learn something new, including creative writing. Someof these classes last for the entire semesters, while others runfor only several weeks. They can be taught by college professorsor 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 orother places, such as a writer’s retreat, a civic organization,and a convention devoted to a specific genre. Such creativewriting classes are often taught by experiences writers. Finally,it’s possible to attend online courses offered by communitycolleges or other organizations as special outreach educationalprograms. Some of them are available for free, while others comewith specific charges that may range from a nominal fee to asubstantial payment.
Reading helpful books on creative writing
Books on creative writing are very helpful because they cover arange of important aspects. For example, general how to books aredesigned to teach you the basics of mastering this skills. Theyoften provide useful suggestions on how to structure your writingpieces correctly, include effective techniques on how tostimulate creativity, and offer expert advice. Technique-specificbooks are focused on teaching specific writing methods that youcan apply in different genres. They also teach you how to buildthe necessary tension and structure your stories correctly.
Read genre-specific books if you want to understand how to writeany specific genre, including romance, science fiction,mysteries, and so on. Genre-specific reference books sharevaluable information that all students need to know to create arealistic setting for their pieces of creative writing. Forinstance, fantasy and historical fiction writers read many booksthat cover life in the Middle Ages.
Attending special writing workshops
You should attend special writing workshops because they give youa unique opportunity to share your writing works with others andget a better insight of how other people write their pieces. Suchworkshops 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 pieceof writing with others.
Visiting writing blogs and joining groups
Think about following special writing podcasts and blogs becausemany talented authors share their interesting opinions there. Usesuch sources as your creative writing inspiration and education.Join the groups of like-minded people because they offer a greatchance to network with talented writers who are willing to sharetheir effective opportunities and techniques. Some groups areavailable only online, while others meet physically. Look for agood one in your local area or use your favorite search engine.The most effective way to improve your writing skills is topractice.
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