Writing like the writers that you admire may not be as impossible as you imagine it. They have all gone through the same struggles that we all go through. They have all had to learn to rewrite, edit, and rewrite again. They all have a process. They might not want you to be aware of the process, because then you’d be able to mold your average first draft into a magnificent second draft and an even better third draft.
At Mark Graham Communications, we have a saying: Writing is like mining. What you initially dig up might not look like much, but once it’s been cut and polished, it starts to look and read like the gem you were hoping to find.
Here are a few tips for taking that first draft of yours and enhancing it into that very special book you’ve dreamed of for years.
Keep it simple.
Don’t use five words when two will do. Don’t rely on fluff or filler. Don’t use phrases that begin with words like it, there, here. Don’t use verbs like was, has, is. Stick with the active voice whenever possible; and that should be most of the time. The active voice means using real verbs.
Adjectives are not your friend; Nouns are.
This is not news, but it bears repeating. Weak adjectives are like the passive voice. They steal the thunder from you writing. Stick with nouns whenever and wherever you can. Think about what you’re writing. Don’t settle for the mundane. Be creative, but don’t mistake the use of twenty-five cent words for being creative.
SHORT SENTENCES CREATE PACE.
No, you don’t want every sentence to be six words, but you sure don’t want every sentence to run on like a gurgling stream. Mix it up. Look for rhythm in your writing, and check for rhythm in your writing by reading it back out loud. Find your cadence. And don’t be lazy about it. Cadence and rhythm take work, but once you get the feel, it becomes natural.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T OVERWRITE.
This is an amateur mistake, and we’ve all made it. Less is usually better in the writing world, so say what you want to say and then take a step back. Your reader will thank you.