Practical Writing Tips

(image by David Vignoni)

(image by David Vignoni)

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

-Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839



Do you have to write sentences or paragraphs in class?

Does your teacher return your paper with red (or green, or blue) corrections on it?

Here are 8 tips to help you write better and see less corrective ink!

1. Think before you write.

Great writers don’t immediately put a pen to paper as soon as the teacher tells them to create something. Everyone needs time to think about what to write. Think about your purpose for writing, your audience, and your topic. What do you want to say? How do you want to say it?

2. Believe in what you write.

When you don’t want to write, you don’t enjoy it. Find a topic you are interested in. Practice writing will make you into a better writer. When you don’t care about the topic, you won’t put in your best work.

3. Ask for “sentence frames” if you need them.

Many teachers help their students by giving them “sentence frames”: half-completed sentences that the student finishes.

Here is an example:

When I was a child, I lived in ____________ with _____________. My favorite activity was _________________. Every year my family and I would ___________. Now I live in __________ with ______________. I enjoy _____________. Life is very different now!

4. For better vocabulary, read, read, read.

Reading often helps you absorb more vocabulary. You need a book on your level, where you you can understand 80-85% of it. If you have to look up a word in every sentence, the text is too hard. Aim for 2 or 3 unknown words per page.

5. Check for flow.

After you write, read it again. Make sure all of your ideas make sense and are connected. Use transition words like “first,” “next,” “then,” “finally,” to help your reader understand the order of events.

6. Check subject-verb agreement and verb tenses.

Make sure your subject and verbs are correct. “She was happy” is correct. “She were happy” is not correct. Verb tenses are important, too. Use past tense verbs in the past and present tense verbs in the present.

(Image by Revital9)

(Image by Revital9).  

7. Check capital letters and punctuation.

Start every sentence with a capital letter. Write “I,” names of people, cities, states, countries, days, and months with a capital letter, too. End every sentence with a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation mark (!).

8. Edit as necessary.

All writers edit their work. Writing is a work in progress. Editing helps you learn from your mistakes and become a better writer. Enjoy the process!

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