Everyone who can speak knows how to sing, but the voice makes a difference. Similarly, every literate person knows how to write, yet baking the piece with the perfect ingredients makes the difference. However, unlike singing, you can be a pro in writing with the right mindset and guides.
If you are wondering, “How can I develop my writing skills?” Well, these are the 15 Writing Hacks You Must Learn To Become A Great Writer. These hacks will help you in writing web articles, not for academic or research papers.
1. Find the purpose of the writing and know your audience
Before starting your writing ask yourself: why are you writing? Your answer might be, generating money. Yes, this is true to some extent. However, apart from the joke, the more logical questions are
- Why would the readers care?
- Will it serve the readers’ purpose?
- How will this benefit them?
- Is it worthwhile considering their time?
- How will they feel about it?
Keep those questions in mind while writing. It will help you to craft a better copy. Think about your audience. Writing isn’t about what you are thinking, it’s about what the audience wants to know.
For example, if you write a research paper for a publication you should write in a formal tone with sophisticated language. On the other hand, if you write a blog for an entertainment site you should write in a funny tone in simpler sentences.
2. Voice and Tone
Voice is like a personality that is constant while the tone is abstract that changes according to circumstances. Grammarly states that voice is the fingerprint of an author. Voice makes you different from others. However, the tone varies based on your writing topics and audiences.
If you are writing an academic paper, research, or financial report you should make it impersonal. Don’t use the first or third person.
On the other hand, if you are writing web articles do the contrary. Make it conversational by using the third person especially “you.” Use “you” more than “I, we, and us” people like to talk more about themselves instead of you. Don’t use “some of you”/ “many of you.”
Nobody likes to be addressed as a part of a crowd. Everyone likes attention, so does your reader. Instead of focusing on the “faceless crowd” choose one reader and write as you are having a conversation.
Your writing voice should have the resonance that connects with the reader. You may imagine having a conversation with your favorite reader in a coffee shop. Make your tone conversational, and by conversational I didn’t mean to write a transcript.
You might have a broad audience but when each reader walks through your writing they will feel special that you are attending each of the clients individually. Writing isn’t all about what you are writing, it’s about who you are writing for.
4. Write Scannable texts
Do you think people read web pages word by word? No, they don’t. Hardly anybody reads word by word, rather they scan through the text, pick pieces of information, and click on the next page. -Jakob Nielsen
Similarly, before reading anything, the reader reads the title, scans through the list of contents then decides whether to read it or not.
Therefore, it is crucial to write scannable texts. A checklist to make text scannable:
- Informative title
- Highlight the keywords you may use hypertext
- Write key points as bullet points
- Informative headline
- Clear visual representation (image, infographics, or diagram)
- Summarize sub-headline
5. Use familiar words
Remember web visitors are here for hunting information or products. They will find whether you serve their purpose at a glance before reading through the whole copy. Use familiar words so they can easily find what they are looking for. For example, if you are looking for a wedding dress at a lower price. What are the possible keywords that come to your mind? I might search with
- low price wedding dresses
- wedding dresses at a lower price
- low-cost wedding dresses
- cheap wedding dresses
Let us have a look at what people search for most of the time.
People rarely search for low price wedding dresses, wedding dresses at a lower price, and low cost wedding dresses. However, look at the search volume for “cheap wedding dresses.” Prioritize your reader’s choice of word.
6. Put your most important information first
Usually while writing the academic paper what you do? Start with stating the main topic followed by an overview, literature review, discussion, and finally conclude. But unlike academic papers on web pages the sooner you write the key points the visitor will engage more.
For example, if you are looking for a wristwatch, after coming to the website you will look for the features and prices. You will lose your interest if you have to scroll down and down to find the feature.
7. Remove “gobbledygook”
“We need a more blue-sky approach to three-dimensional relative matrix approaches.”
Did you understand the sentence? I didn’t. This is an example of gobbledygook. Gobbledygook means the technical terms that common people don’t understand.
“David Meerman Scott” listed the most commonly used gobbledygook phrases in his analysis, “The Gobbledygook Manifesto(pdf).” He analyzed 388000 press releases that include the commonly used gobbledygook, “easy to use,” “world class,” “next generation,” “innovate,” “optimize” “user friendly,” “best of breed,” and others that are used over 1000 times.
Which sounds better: “Get rid of unnecessary words,” OR,” Eliminate wordiness.”
The second one is better since it doesn’t have any unnecessary words. There are five words in the first sentence while there are two words in the second one. Yet the meaning of both sentences is the same.
The words “in my opinion,” “just,” “very,” “really,” and “actually” don’t add any value. Many experienced authors sometimes use unnecessary words that can be written in another way-
- Walking slowly — sauntering, strolling, striding
- Saying loudly — barking, yelling, shrieking
- Talking aimlessly — blabbering, digressing, yakking
- Working really hard — slaving, laboring, toiling
9. Write with rhythm
Without rhythm the writing is lifeless. To add rhythm vary the length of your sentences, rearrange sentences or phrases, change your tones considering the scenario or emotions, and sometimes forget the rule. By forgetting the rule I didn’t mean grammar. Use metaphors, similes but not too much.
Instead of being boring, swing your words. Give the rhythm by changing the tone of your writing often. Write a variation of sentences. Yet make sure that the sentences are not too long. It will be easier to read. But don’t make it monotonous and boring. Instead, give a variety of sentences.
Connect the facts with your personal experiences. Take the readers to dive into your personal experiences.
10. Use hook in the introductory paragraph
Thousands of content are scattered on the web. To stand out you have to be unique and serve the purpose of the client. An introduction is the first section where you have to hook your audience’s attention. If you cannot engage your audience in the introductory paragraph most of them will leave immediately. You may start with a question that arouses readers’ interest, an anecdote related to your topic, a statement to trigger the pain point of the readers, interesting quotes, and/or fact/statistics.
11. Use Transition:
Using transition often it will make the writing flawless. The audience will enjoy the journey without stumbling in the way.
The outline is not a silver bullet that will work for everyone. Every writer has their way of writing. You might work better with an outline. Yet there are plenty of writers who don’t need outlining before writing. Sometimes, I harness good writing without following a strict outline. However, I prefer to write an outline before I start working. It helps me to think clearly, research precisely, and speeds up the writing.
You can test yourself to check which method works better for you. Try writing with and without an outline and check which way you can mold the best writing.
13. Read It Out Loud while editing
Don’t write and edit at the same time. It will kill your time. After completing your draft take a pause. If possible edit after 24 hrs and you will be surprised by seeing the outcome. While editing, reading out loud will help to edit the rhythm and flow of the copy.
14. Find a suitable time to write
Every person has their time for concentration. I prefer writing in the morning. After having a sound sleep around eight hours I can focus more in the morning. You might find a night or any other time of the day more fruitful unlike me.
15. Read and Practice
If you ask me “How can a beginner improve writing?” The answer is practice. There is a proverb you may know, “ practice makes perfect.” Try to write a few words every day. It will surprise you beyond your imagination. Keep reading, reading is the best way to develop writing skills.
Happy Writing 🙂