Monday, March 15, 2010

Power Writing - How to improve your writing skills?

Surfing the web this week, I found out a website that can help us (students and professionals) to improve our writing skills. The website written by Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach, has many interesting articles. You can also get free articles on how to improve your writing skills, and sign-up for a weekly free newsletter on that subject. I posted one of her newsletter's samples below about "wordiness", and that is a topic that I certainly have problems with. What about you?

 Here is a sample of Daphne Gray-Grant's free writing newsletter, Power Writing.

Super fast tips to help you write faster, better
TIP: Increase your writing speed with the find & replace key
There are some bad writing habits we all slip into from time to time. One is wordiness. If you tend to be wordy, here’s a fast way to fix the problem:

Use your “find & replace” key [hit Control + F in MS Word], then type in “tion” in the “find” box and search through your document. Each time you find a word that ends in “tion” (for example: observation, translation, allocation), try to eliminate it. Why?

There are three big problems with “tion” words:
1. They are usually long - three to four syllables. Readers tend to stumble on long words.
2. They usually don’t create a picture in the reader’s mind. (If I write “dog” you are likely to see a dog in your mind’s eye. If I write “allocation” you will see nothing). Good writing is all about pictures.
3. You usually form these words by taking a perfectly good verb (eg: observe) and adding “tion” to turn it into a noun (“observation.”) To make a sentence, you THEN have to add ANOTHER verb - usually a boring one like “is” or “made” (eg: “He made an observation.”) This makes your writing dull and wordy.

The best way to eliminate the “tion” word is to turn the noun back into its original verb: She observed the problem; he translated the document.
This week as you’re writing: watch for words ending in “tion” and try to eliminate them.

An advice by Daphne Gray-Grant. Check her site The Publication Coach


  1. Thanks for the great tips Fátima. I know that I probably fall into the habit of using too many "tion" words myself. It's easy to forget that the simplest words can often be the most effective.

  2. I will keep all of that in mind, thanks Fatima. I'll make a suggestion and perhaps give everyone who reads this a little tip that should turn them into a fantastic writer as well....ENROL IN MRS. GEDDIE'S GRAMMAR CLASS! and if she were to read this she would cringe at the sight of these exclamation points and probably at my grammar as well. The beauty of it though, is that this a blog and we can be as grammatically incorrect as we choose. Thanks for the tips!!!!! (had to throw those in there haha)