Small Strategies That Elevate Your Writing

There’s one universal truth about writing: there are always ways to improve. Sure, you may not be a wordsmith by birth—after all, writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to strengthen your skills. Trust us; you’ll be amazed at how much your writing can be elevated with a few simple tweaks.


Turn in your next paper with confidence! Check out the Citation Machine Plus essay checker for help improving your paper. There are also handy grammar guides on verbs, pronouns, determiners, and other parts of speech.


Use Active Voice

Even seasoned writers confuse active and passive voice occasionally. The easiest way to remember how to use active voice (instead of passive voice) is to simply put the noun ahead of the verb.

Examples:

Gas needs to be put in the car. (Passive voice)

The car needs gas. (Active voice)

 

The kitchen was cleaned by Molly. (Passive voice)

Molly cleaned the kitchen. (Active voice)

 

The pizza was devoured by the soccer team. (Passive voice)

The soccer team devoured the pizza. (Active voice)

 

The works cited page was formatted by Carl. (Passive voice)

Carl formatted MLA works cited page. (Active voice)

 

If you remember to place the noun first and the verb second, you’re well on your way to implementing active voice in your writing. This small strategy works wonders.

Keep Sentences Short and Sweet

Longer sentences don’t equal better sentences. While longer sentences can be used effectively when developing your unique writing style and employing proper syntax, it’s simpler to use sentences that are short and sweet. Not only does this make it easier for your readers to process, but it lessens the chance of grammatical errors on your part.

Use Strong Adjectives

Now before we explain this, let us warn you not to go crazy with the thesaurus because trust us, your professor will know. However, challenging yourself to change an elementary adjective into a stronger, more powerful one will make a difference in your writing.

Examples:

Cindy was hungry after the 4-mile hike. (Weak adjective)

Cindy was famished after the 4-mile hike. (Strong adjective)

 

Mrs. Mills laughed at how dirty her son’s clothes were after football practice. (Weak adjective)

Mrs. Mills laughed at how filthy her son’s clothes were after football practice. (Strong adjective)

 

Katie was happy that she received an A on her physics exam. (Weak adjective)

Katie was thrilled that she received an A on her physics exam. (Strong adjective)

 

Like we said, never go crazy with the thesaurus for fear of making your writing unreadable or awkward, but definitely challenge yourself to use stronger adjectives where appropriate.

Avoid Filler Words

Words like “really,” “very,” “little,” and “kind of” add nothing to your writing. In fact, using what we call fluff, filler, or qualifying words can actually make your writing weaker.

Examples:

I was really exhausted.

Scrap that and say, “I was exhausted” instead.

 

Mark is kind of indifferent about our dinner plans.

Mark is indifferent about our dinner plans.

 

The teacher was a little surprised how many APA citations her student had.

The teacher was surprised how many APA citations her student had.

 

If you can take the filler word out of the sentence and it still makes perfect sense, it very well may be a filler word.

Read Your Writing Aloud

Reading your writing aloud remains one of the smallest (albeit most effective) tips we can offer, yet it has quite the impact. By reading your writing aloud, you’re more likely to catch grammatical issues, awkward syntax, and areas of your piece that can be improved.

Write Now…Edit Later

What’s most important is getting all of your important points and ideas down on paper and turning them into tangible work. You need not edit as you go; it’s best not to put the cart before the horse. After you have a draft, focus on editing. Avoid as many roadblocks as possible during the writing process and just get it done.

Reading More in General

Even hundreds of years later, books are still in fashion, whether that be digitally or as a hard copy. And no wonder books have lasted the test of time, there are awesome benefits to reading! First and foremost, reading allows you to build a stronger vocabulary. By picking up a book now and then, you’re likely to learn new words—along with the proper context with which to use them. Additionally, reading opens your eyes to different writing styles and strategies. Strong writers have strong voices, but there’s no set way to accomplish that. By reading work from many writers—and experimenting with your own work—you’ll find that you develop the language, syntax, and style skills to take your work to the next level.


Good academic writing also needs a bibliography…and Citation Machine can help you out. Whether it be an annotated bibliography, a Chicago in-text citation, or a citation in another style, Citation Machine has the tools to get the job done.