Your Quick-Fix Guide to Better Writing

Writing—we all do it daily, yet we find ourselves blanking out whenever we need to do it well. Frustratingly, the ability to produce quality texts often stands between us and our goals: a letter of motivation for a university application or a cover letter for a job can determine the direction a life will take. This guide provides a quick-fix for any writer’s level so as to instantly upgrade your texts. Whatever your current composition skills, read on to learn about the shortcuts to advance—your writing and in life.

Basic: the Punch-in-the-face test. In order to compose any decent text, you must have a clear idea of its purpose—and this information should promptly make its way to your reader in the form of a thesis statement. Use the following straightforward test to determine a thesis statement’s value: if you said this to a stranger in a bar, would they punch you in the face? The greater the probability of a black eye, the more strength lies in your thesis statement. If it provokes reaction, you have a good topic for your text.

Intermediate: take action. Confident you ensured a hypothetical beating, you’ll want to make sure your text has some action in it, too. You may have guessed it—this paragraph will tell you to steer clear of the passive voice. The passive voice strikes down on your writing where it hurts: it makes it vague and it makes it boring. In fact, politicians use the passive voice precisely when they want to avoid getting punched in the face, leaving out the real subjects of phrases like “taxes were raised” and “mistakes were made”.

Advanced: Writing without being. In the fight against reader boredom, an excellent writer attacks one certain word more mercilessly than any other—the verb “to be”, in all its forms. Once you’ve acquired a high enough level of writing, join in this mission. Am, was, being, were—find them, and replace them. This challenging task will have you pulling your hair out, but, once mastered, results in unique and expressive writing. In the unlikely event that some time should still remain before your deadline, repeat the process for other boring words such as “make”, “do” and “have”.

Feeling boosted? Or rather a bit beat down? Share your reactions in the comments section below –and don’t forget to give us your own best writing tips too.

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