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ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER THROUGH READING & PRACTICE
Danielle H. Yes to all of this. Anytime I talk business with someone this comes up. It is so important. Writing is 10% creation and 90% editing. One thing I would like to add about reading: it is not just the reading that helps. If you really want to get something out of your reading, especially if you are reading to be a better writer, you have to read actively. Really look at how the author has structured the piece, down to word choice and punctuation. Take note of structures that you find interesting or striking, and take a moment to consider why it is a successful choice in the context of what you are reading. If it is something that doesn't work, consider why and how it could have been done better. Even doing this in your leisure reading is helpful. It feels like work at first, but it will quickly become a habit that will last your lifetime. I always read with a pencil in my hand.
Maureen A. I am sure that excel in my workplace because of the high quality of my writing. I work as a software developer and find it sad that the writing skills of the general public are so very poor. Poorly written requirements are very expensive! It is immensely worthwhile to carefully organize thoughts and construct sentences that accurately state what we really mean. It does take practice. Thanks for the helpful tips!
Randy W. Nice article, thanks for posting. I work with writers everyday and see many issues to correct and improve. I also realize that we are at the cusp of an evolutionary leap in language. No different than when Herr Gutenberg looked at the wine press and said I can make something with this. We see more poor writing because more people are writing. Twenty or so years ago, few people wrote much more than a quick note or a grocery list. It was purpose driven. Today kids are writing to friends and family everyday more than my generation ever did. They are shifting the language and our grammar rules(and police) will need to adjust as well. My points here do not dismiss Dave's argument that clarity is the better part of communication. I'll take a well-written article following the guidelines of Strunk and White over any other flowery, overly expressed prose anyday.1d
by Mariam Jehangir
Most of us have been criticized by friends (playfully) and English teachers (earnestly) for slipping up and using words incorrectly in a sentence, and while many of us like to think we have the basic grammar principles down, we still misuse some common words in our everyday conversations.
Dictionary.com compiled a short list of these words that we carelessly slip into sentences to give ourselves more time to think and, in doing so, ruin the sentence. These so-called “crutch words” detract from your main message and don’t add useful meaning to your statement.
So what are some commonly used crutch words?
Actually – The literal meaning of this word signifies that something is present or exists in reality, but it is often used incorrectly to add an extra punch to the sentence.
Basically – This word should be used to signify a simple or fundamental point, instead people often use it incorrectly in a statement to add weight and instill a sense of finality.
Honestly – Often times people use this word to add either authority or amazement to their statements. Its correct usage adds meaningful honesty to what the speaker is saying.
Like – Okay, we’re admittedly guilty of this one. We just can’t seem to shake this filler word, which was adapted into our vernacular after movies and shows like Valley Girl and Cluelessintroduced us to the so-called ‘Val Speak.’ Just like “um,” we involuntarily slip the word into our conversations, but it should be used when describing something that has the same form or character as something else.
Literally – This often used crutch word can irritate scrupulous listeners, as the incorrect usage of the adverb can render a statement senseless. The word is supposed to describe something in a strict manner without exaggeration, instead speakers often use it in figurative or hyperbolic sentences.
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