You might not know it, but your writing shows your style!
Just like your home or your clothes, how you put words together gives a message.
It can tell readers how you think, what you value, or why you are writing in the first place.
In a few easy steps, you can take control of your writing style and create some of the best written work of your life!
Has your instructor ever commented on your paper that your writing is wordy awkward unclear or confusing?
If so, you may have a problem with writing style.
Your writing may follow all the grammar rules but still not be pleasant or easy to read.
This can happen for many reasons – but thankfully, they are easy to fix!
The first rule of good writing style is to be clear and concise.
If you can say something in three words, don’t use seven to say it!
You can cut down on your wordiness by:
Deleting redundant or repetitive words. If they don’t add to your meaning, get rid of them. Instead of saying “the whole entire planet,” for example, you can just say “the planet.”
Avoiding clichés. Try to be more precise about your word choice. Cut out clichés and filler statements, and instead be specific.
Reducing qualifiers. Don’t stack words like very, generally, pretty, or kind of. Instead pick a strong adjective – why say “pretty cute” when you could say “adorable”?
You can also cut down on your words by writing in active voice.
This means the subject of your sentence is actually doing the action.
In the sentence “Steve loves Amy,” Steve is the subject and he is doing the action: he loves Amy, the object of the sentence.
In passive voice, we flip the sentence around so the target gets promoted to the subject position: “Amy is loved by Steve.” Amy is the subject, but she isn’t actually doing anything. She is just the recipient of Steve’s love.
Sentences in passive voice not only use more words, but they are harder to understand.
To make your writing more interesting and fun to read, try mixing and matching your sentences.
Sentences can be simple, compound, or complex.
Simple sentences contain a subject and a verb and express a complete thought. The subject students performs the verb study.
Compound sentences contain two simple sentences joined together. Another sentence has been joined to the last one, with the subject “others” and the verb “prefer.”
Complex sentences join two sentences, but one of them is “dependent” or does not express a complete thought. You can tell a complex sentence because it will have a “subordinator” word like “because” or “although.”
Finally, if you have a list in a sentence, try using parallel structure to make your writing seem polished.
To use parallel structure, you write using the same pattern of words to show similarity of ideas.
Compare these two examples.
In the first sentences, most of the verbs end in –ing, so you should end them all that way.
In the second sentences, using an –ing verb breaks with the pattern, so you should not use it.
Do you have any questions or need advice on your writing style?
Then visit bryan.edu/ags_resources for more resources and videos. You can even ask a live online tutor for help on an assignment.