For all tips and guidelines to help improve your writing skills.
REVISING AND EDITING:
You've spent hours on that perfect story, feel that it's just about ready for the public to consume, only to receive reviews/comments that suggest you fix this and fix that. The natural tendency is for one to either ignore such suggestions, or to put the revising/editing process aside until a later date (sometimes never). It is time-consuming, and besides, it looks perfect to you so why bother going back to work on it again? Here are a few tips to keep in mind while writing the final draft for your story, hence reducing the reviews that call for more work on it.
It's always recommended you set aside your story draft for a day or two to clear your mind and get some distance from your writing.
Re-read for Meaning - Do not worry about small details. Instead concentrate on your main plot and how clearly you've expressed it. Note any places in the story where the meaning is unclear or the plot becomes confusing.
Remember Your Main Theme/Purpose - Does your story achieve its purpose or original intent when you began? If you planned on writing about a rookie cop on his first day on the job, do you find yourself straying and giving him the voice/characteristics of a seasoned cop at the end of the tale?
Consider Your Audience - Just how appropriate is your story to whatever audience you hope to reach? If you are writing a story for children, have you made sure there are no words or scenarios that might make the tale complicated? If it's a story about teens, do you think you've captured the proper mannerisms and antics that the teen audience can relate to?
Once you're done with revising the draft and organizing it, it's time to look closely at your sentences and words. You can turn a 'blah' sentence into a memorable one - or find exactly the right word to express a thought. This can make the difference between an 'okay' story and one definitely worth reading.
Examine Your Sentences - Good sentences keep the reader engaged and ready for more. Variety is the spice of life with sentences and you add variety to them by looking closely at their length, structure and opening patterns.
Varying Sentence Length - Too many short sentences in a row can sound like a series of short blasts on a car horn, while a steady stream of long sentences may tire or confuse the reader. You should aim for some variety in length, breaking up series of long sentences with a very brief one.
Varying Sentence Openings - Opening sentence after sentence in the same way results in a jerky, abrupt, or choppy rhythm. You can vary sentence openings by beginning with a dependent clause, a phrase, an adverb, a conjunctive adverb, or a coordinating conjunction. Note that revising your openings improves the flow and makes the story easier to read and more memorable.
Checking for Sentences Opening with 'It' and 'There' - While going through the sentences in your draft, look especially at those that begin with 'it' or 'there'. Sometimes these words can create a special emphasis, as in "It was a dark and stormy night." But they can also easily be overused and misused. Another, more subtle problem with these openings is that they may be used to avoid taking responsibility for a statement. For example:
It is necessary to raise student fees.
The university must raise student fees.
Examining Words - The words you chose allow you to put a personal stamp on your writing. Study your word choice carefully, making sure you get the most mileage out of each word. Because word choice is highly individual, general guidelines are hard to provide.
Using Spell Checkers and Style Checkers - while these software tools won't catch every spelling error or identify all problems of style, they can be very useful. Note that spell checkers are limited; they don't recognize most proper names, foreign words, or specialized language and they do not recognize homonym errors (misspelling there as their for example). Most commercial style checkers will highlight cliches, repetitions, or expressions like it is and there are.
Examining Tone - this refers to the attitude the writer's language conveys in the story and to the audience. While examining the tone, again think about the plot of the story, your own attitude towards it and that of the intended audience. Check for connotations, or specific associations of words as well as slang, jargon, emotional language, and the level of formality. If you're writing a story set in the medieval era, you do not want to use modern day slang or casual language for your characters. If the mood you hope to create is a somber one, do you find yourself injecting 'light-hearted' words that causes the moody effect to be lost? You may discover from examining the tone of your draft that your own attitude towards the plot is different from what you originally thought.
Proofreading the Final Draft - Take time for one last, careful proofreading, which means reading to correct any typographical errors or other slips, such as inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation. To proofread most effectively, read through the story aloud, making sure that punctuation marks are used correctly and consistently, that all sentences are complete, and that no words are left out. Then go through it again, this time reading backward so that you can focus on each individual word and its spelling. This final proofreading aims to make your written work letter perfect, something you can be proud of.