Usually, I encounter someone who asks me, “how can I improve my writing?” I look at the person, look at the pile of words on paper on hand, and look at the person again. “Read your work aloud. I’ll be here, listening to you,” I respond.
That’s easily the most significant tip I can offer anyone looking to improve one’s writing. Often times, your writing voice is vastly different from your speaking voice, so it helps to hear your writing voice talking.
Once you begin, do not stop. Keep reading aloud. Make sure you are reading slow enough so someone else, who may or may not be in the same room with you, can understand every single word coming out of your mouth. During the process of reading slowly, little grammatical errors will arise, as well as any other structural problems. Make note of them with a pen (of a color other than black) and proceed with reading.
If someone else is in the room with you, listening as you read your narrative piece aloud, have them make note of anything that seems odd to them. Their perspective will assist you in improving your words for clarity, consistency, and cohesiveness. Even as you read aloud, you may not catch everything that doesn’t make sense. Another person will be able to provide that.
If you stumble upon sentences or words that need to be rephrased or are simply awkward, make note of this and continue reading until the end of the paragraph. Stop briefly, then ask yourself, what is the point I am trying to make in this paragraph? What am I trying to say overall? What was I trying to say in that one specific part that was awkward? Declare your intents aloud so you hear your speaking voice, not your writing voice, articulating the ideas you intend to put on paper. Take note of your intents, then rework your verbalized ideas into a cohesive, pleasant sentence that flows well.
Resume reading the rest of your work. Repeat this process of identifying awkward sentences, clarifying your ideas, and editing until you are satisfied.
If you would like some guidance with the editing process, please come by WSP before you write your draft. We will help you articulate your ideas and identify your main argument, translating your thoughts onto paper. Then come back with a draft and we will assist you in developing your editing skills using the above technique!
Post submitted by: Courtney Lee