The Hard Part of Writing

rogersgeorge on October 5th, 2016

I haven’t mentioned this “the hard part of writing” in a while. Long enough ago that I don’t entirely remember what I wrote back then, but you probably don’t either, so it won’t matter if I repeat myself.

The hard part of writing is when you have a perfectly grammatical sentence, but it the sentence could be better—but and you have to think to make it better.

Here are I will share a few rules of thumb to make it writing good sentences a little easier.

Avoid using a false subject. Examples: “there is,” “there are,” and “it is.” (Except with the weather. You can say, “It’s raining.” But You can improve even on that: “Look at that rain!” “Good weather for ducks, eh?” “The rain is really coming down.”)

It’s a real problem
We have a real problem

… it hit me that I might still have special privileges with them
I realized that I might still have special privileges with them

It’s often said that faster is better
My shop teacher always said that faster is better.

Make the subjects of your sentences real.

Avoid using Use a better verb than the verb “to be.” (By which I mean all the forms of that verb, not just the infinitive.) “Make” and “do” are good ones to stay away from, too. This is why it’s using some other verb is harder: You have to think of another word. But if you do, your writing will be more colorful, interesting, and meaningful.

…which is the biggest rocket humanity has made.
…which currently stands as by far the biggest rocket humanity has made.

The writer wrote the second line is what the. It’s Better, isn’t it?

Nouns are better than pronouns. I mentioned this recently, so it’s not necessary I don’t need want to repeat myself. The idea is that Pronouns generally have words they refer to (antecedents) and your reader might have trouble figuring out what the antecedent is the pronoun refers to.

You might think of some more rules, but these are enough should give you enough to think about for a start. I made it this post hard enough to read by sharing some of my edits.

I mentioned conciseness recently, but avoiding unnecessary words is a good enough rule that it bears repeating. Make your writing concise.

Here’s a related comic, a Luann from a couple years back:


Got any suggestions of your own? Share in the comments.

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