As I mentioned in my earlier post, “A Brief History of Myself as a Writer,” I did not consider myself an experienced writer. Even after writing in different genres for my writing class this past quarter, I still don’t think I’m a very experienced writer. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just think that I’m beginning to exercise my writing muscles and am building confidence to get to that point of saying confidently, “I’m an experienced writer.” From my brief time writing for the web, I’ve discovered some useful tips I think everyone who’s looking to improve their writing should know (whether it be for college, business, or even for the web).
Here are four things you should know to write successfully:
1. Know your genres (because they exist!)
Certain styles of writing are appropriate for some and not for others. Take, for example, the sample writings given below:
- Once upon a time, there was a boy learning how to write in school. He was told by many of his teachers in time’s past to follow a five-paragraph format in all academic discourse.
- THIS JUST IN—what was taught earlier in schools proves to be false later in collegiate writing! #schoolproblems #icantwrite
- There has been research done showing that the majority of writing done in college does not follow the five-paragraph format. Furthermore, according to Joe et. al, there seems to be a necessary understanding of various genres in academic writing. Writing in one way does not necessarily apply to all manners of discourse.
Narrative writing (sample #1) may be appropriate for a creative writing course, but not for a research-based course (sample #3), and research-based writing would not necessarily be appropriate for twitter discourse (sample #2).
2. Know your readers (because they exist!)
Imagine your audience, and learn how to appeal to them! As I am writing in a manner that is suitable for blogging, so should you for academic, personal, or narrative purposes! Here’s a short lesson on blogging online. Include a link to buzzfeed in your post and you’re done! I know my readers. They love buzzfeed. So, here you go! You’re welcome. Jesting aside, know your readers.
3. Writing does not need to follow a formula (like the 5 paragraph essay/Jane Schaffer paragraph)
Once you enter college, you’ll find this out in most of your classes that require you to write, and once you find out you might be a bit upset about all those 5 paragraph essays you had to write in high school. (But don’t sink into a hole of despair! Writing is writing, and the more practice you get in different styles, the better repertoire you’ll have to work with in the future as you venture into different means of writing.)
4. There are tools to help you stylize your writing (in the form of tropes and schemes)
Tropes include metaphors, metonymies, synecdoches, irony, puns, hyperboles, litotes, and many more. This all sounds like gibberish and something that you probably vaguely remember hearing about in school, but trust me. They help organize all those different ways of writing you didn’t have a label for and gives you a better framework for expressing what you want to say.
Metonymy: Substituting one thing with a closely associated thing
–Cal Poly Pomona decides to give all students free education.
Synechdoche: Substituting a part for a whole
–May I have a glass of bubbly?
Litotes: Intentional understatements
-(After receiving the nobel prize) I contributed a little.
Schemes include antitheses, asyndetons, anaphoras, etc. These help with syntactical variation (or different sentence phrasings)
Antithesis: Contrasting items set side by side
-“Patience is bitter, but it has sweet fruit.”—Aristotle
Asyndeton: Ellipsis that omits connecting words
–I sat, I wrote, I slept.
Anaphora: Repeating items at the beginning of a series of sentences
–Writing is fun. Writing will help you. Writing never quits.