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I’ve spent my whole career editing other people’s words at all sorts of publications and settings (even Ceefax!). I’ve noticed a few things that make all writing better, from novels to diary entries, news reports to essays. So I thought I’d share them in a thread....
1/ Writing is embroidery. You’re stitching together ideas – often good ones – with contextualising phrases. If the stitching is poor, the garment will fall apart, no matter how beautiful the fabric. Work as hard on the words that hold ideas together as the words that convey them.
2/ Hold the reader’s hand. Don’t just take them on a journey but tell them where they are going and remind them at least after they set sail. When they arrive at your destination, make them think about where they came from.
3a/ Words are your enemy, aim try to rid yourself of as many as you can by answering questions like:

- Can this be said in fewer words?
- Does this word add anything to the description, emphasis, argument or speech?
- Would the writing suffer much without this word?

- Do the words in this sentence or paragraph serve an idea that does not itself serve the objective of the writing?
- Have I said this before?
4/ Write how you speak. Within reason. Don’t be smart, Mr and Mrs Sweary-Pants – you know exactly what I mean.
5/ Choose the simplest language available. Having a good vocabulary doesn’t mean using big words; it means having the best words at your service.
6/ Don't be an accidental thief. If it’s an idiom, meme or metaphor and you didn’t create it, don’t use it. It’s lazy and you can do better.
7/ Imagine you are your own ideal reader; is he or she very likely to be picturing exactly what you intended? If not, does it matter? If it does, how might your words be failing your meaning?
8/ Vary the mechanics of your prose. The more uniform the style (e.g. sentence length, language, narration style) the less it'll engage the reader.
There are many more but I haven't included them here because they're things many other people have already noticed.

What would you add from your own experience?
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