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Write like a pro: seven top hints for new writers

Experienced professional writers won’t need to read this post. All the advice here will be second nature to them.

However, if you’re new to publishing your writing, these simple tips could help you look less like an amateur and more like a pro.

Especially number one. And five. And six. But seven is the most important.

1. Never use exclamation marks
Don’t use them. Just never use them. Using an exclamation mark makes you look like an amateur (unless you can get away with doing it ‘ironically,’ which is mighty tricky). Using more than one exclamation mark at time makes you look like a complete and utter idiot. Don’t do it!!!!

2. Don’t publish or send straight away
Always try to review or edit what you’ve written at a different time, when you are in a different mood. How does it sound now?

3. Break out of formal structure
At school and college people learn to structure essays with introductions and conclusions. There’s nothing wrong with this but there are lots of other ways to structure a piece of writing (including the inverted triangle used in journalism). However, even if you do stick to the introduction-argument-conclusion structure, you don’t have to be so lame as to highlight it in your subheads. Honestly, I have received articles for inclusion in a business magazine where the author had included ‘introduction’ and ‘conclusion’ as sub-headlines. What’s wrong with that? It’s boring and unimaginative, that’s what.

4. Use short words
Don’t try to sound clever by using long words for the sake of it. It actually has the opposite effect.

5. Edit
Cut out as much as possible, eliminating redundant words. Always edit your work as thoroughly as time allows.

6. Be clear
Remember that it is your job, as the writer, to communicate effectively. If the reader doesn’t get it, it’s your fault.

7. Say something interesting
Presenting a balanced point of view is all well and good – but it gets dull after a while. Be passionate about your subject. Be audacious. Project your personality.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Travis Bickle February 27, 2008, 6:23 am

    This is gold.

    I think editing stuff is important. I’m going to start doing this. I sometimes forget to come back to it though.

    I’m starting up a new blog and this is really going to help.

    I agree on exclamation marks, it just doesn’t look right.

  • KatFrench February 27, 2008, 2:00 pm

    If “journalism is literature in a hurry,” then blogging is “journalism in a hurry.”

    Either way, it’s important to slow down the process at least enough to do proper editing. 🙂 Good stuff, Stumbled.

  • Simon February 28, 2008, 9:26 pm

    Kat, Travis, thanks both.