Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:
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A recommended how-to guide on writing good, clear English is “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.
The structure is what your writing hangs on.
When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.
The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.
It is more likely you've written too much than too little.
The rule for most writers is, "If in doubt, cut it." If a word, sentence, or paragraph isn't necessary, delete it. It will clarify what you're trying to say.
The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.
The time you put into editing, reworking and refining turns your first draft into a second draft, and then into a third. If you keep refining it over days or weeks or even years, it eventually becomes something great.
The beginning of anything you write is the most important part. If you don't catch someone's attention at the start, you won't hold it later.
You should spend a disproportionate amount of time working on the first few sentences, paragraphs, or pages.
George Orwell thought a good sentence means trimming as many words as possible, Virginia Woolf found power in verbs, and Baldwin desired 'a sentence as clean as a bone.'
We can learn from celebrated writers that a good sentence is plain, undecorated and visible. It gets its power from the tension between the ease of its phrasing and the surprise of its thought. Each added word reduces alternatives and narrows the reader's expectations. But up to the last word, the writer can throw a curveball.
Writing should be a spontaneous activity—idea to page—but we dream too long and the idea is lost in the haze and never hits the page.
Writers must outline their work. We need to plan the major plot points, understand their characters in minute detail, and then walk them through the plot.
The idea of being a Pantser—writing without a plan is a romantic notion. Very few people are able to pull it off.
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