Basics & Strong Writing

 Basics Make Strong Writing by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Writing as close as we can to the way we speak, tends to lead to lively, engaging and powerful sentences. Once that’s down, we revise and polish our composition.
I find the following list of revision tips helpful.

1.    Keep the focus, the theme of the piece consistent throughout,
2.    Sentence structure is a subject—a noun or pronoun, and a predicate/verb that explains what the subject is doing,
3.    Use nouns rather than adjectives (nouns: people, places & things—the info readers want.) Remove over used adjectives such as very,
4.    Verbs are where the action is—choose strong ones and avoid adverbs that diminish the strength of the sentence.
5.    Write shorter sentences for clarity; yet long enough to express the point—rather than long ones. Then vary sentence length within the piece.
6.    Write in a professional manner but make it personal to convey the message. Also, be specific, avoiding general statements which can be less useful.
7.     Choose common words that keep the flow, rather than fancy ones that slow the pace.

Sentences build paragraphs; utilize sentence emphasis. Here are tips to consider:
1.    Sentences close with emphasis through punctuation, the period, a pause. It’s the strongest point of emphasis.
2.    Lead a sentence with a strong statement, not a preliminary intro to launch it: in order to…
3.    Not every sentence needs emphasis. Some must be subordinate, use clauses effectively for this. Although, when, if, and because are useful for subordinate clauses.
4.    Grammar checkers don’t approve BUT, sentence fragments are instrumental in making a point. (Got it? Enough said?)
5.    Your topic has a coherent flow, now consider ending with the thought you intend to develop next.

Build Stronger Writing 
Enrich Your Everyday Practice

Helpful Tools:
Melissa Donovan’s 10 Core Practices for Better Writing
Mastering the Craft of Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:
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Terry Whalin said...

Deborah Lyn,

Thank you for this important article about basics and strong writing. Every one of us need to revisit these basics--even if you have published a lot of material like me. I especially liked the one about using short strong sentences. As an editor, I'm often breaking up these lengthy sentences. I also do it in the revision of my own writing--before anyone sees it.

author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Ditto to you and @terrywhalin, DeborahLyn! Reviews of basics keep us on our toes. I also believe there are many cases when the colloquial short sentence otherwise known as fragments can be useful. I have been using ‘s daily prompts and quizzes and they appear to agree. Including one word sentences. After all, that’s how we often talk!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson 2nd edition

Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, very helpful article. It's especially important to use shorter sentences when writing for children. But as you said, the lengths do have to be mixed. Thanks for sharing!

deborah lyn said...

Thank you Terry, Carolyn & Karen, for your comments and hitting the message home!

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