By Geraldine Woods

Good grammar is essential, but life is made up of more than essentials. Style is as important in writing as it is in fashion. Fortunately, you can improve your sentences easily. This list explains how to do so.

Be simple and direct

You have something to say. Just say it! Go for simple, direct phrasing. Avoid sentences like ‘The book was written by me’ and instead write, ‘I wrote the book’.

Add new words carefully

Before you insert a new word into your writing, be sure you understand it completely. Words come with positive or negative baggage. Call someone ‘curvy’, and you may see a smile. Say ‘fat’, and the reaction is different!

Change sentence length

Everyone likes variety. If every sentence is more or less the same length, your writing may lull readers to sleep. Change lengths occasionally by combining short sentences or chopping long sentences into pieces. Be careful to do so without breaking grammar rules.

Shuffle the sentence pattern

Most sentences follow a ‘subject–verb’ pattern. The subject (the person or thing you are talking about) comes first. The verb (the ‘being’ or ‘doing’ word) follows. To add interest, change the pattern once in a while. Instead of ‘Sid strolled through the park’, write ‘Through the park strolled Sid’.

Find interesting verbs

‘Billy said he was tired’. That sentence is fine, but said does not tell you much. How about declared, whispered, shouted, or muttered? All those words add meaning and interest.

Be specific

Which sentence gives more information? ‘She redecorated her room’ or ‘She covered the gray wall with bright pink paint and hung two photos of her dog Rex’. The second sentence moves away from the general (redecorated) and injects details (the colors, photos, and even the dog’s name). Specifics spark interest.

Move beyond sight

Writing becomes more interesting when you refer to many senses, not just to sight. If you describe an old house, you will naturally refer to its appearance. But how about its moldy scent? The roughness of the floor? The creak of decaying floors? Include all the senses, and the description comes alive.

Be original

Some expressions, such as ‘pretty as a picture’ or ‘so hungry I could eat a horse’ appear often. Readers skip over them because they have already read them. Hit the ‘originality button’ and create something new.

Give ‘and’ a rest

And is a perfectly fine word. It connects all sorts of things. So do many other words! Consider ‘as well as’, ‘in addition to’, ‘along with’, and ‘furthermore’ as substitutes. Be careful, though. These expressions cannot join complete sentences.

ProfreadProofread

No matter how carefully you write, mistakes creep in. Take a moment to check everything (school papers, emails, texts — everything) when you finish writing. Careful proofreading catches many mistakes.