Best Writing Advice I’ve Received

I am an editor by day, but my true love is writing. I planned to become a writer when I pursued my journalism degree, but I found myself in an editing position at a newspaper just after graduation. While it wasn’t what I initially set out to do, I loved learning how to improve my writing. I try to incorporate the following tips I’ve picked up throughout the years.

  • Delete very. It doesn’t add anything. How many? What amount? How tall? Be more specific in your description.
  • Write in active voice (in which the subject in a sentence is doing the action). Grammar Girl provides a helpful explanation in case you need a refresher on the subject.
  • Delete extra words. You don’t get extra credit for word count; be concise.
  • Make sure you get idioms correct. 
  • Read your work out loud. You’ll realize where your writing is a mouthful that will need to be tweaked.
  • Show, don’t tell. This is the key. Don’t say she is beautiful; describe her features. Don’t say she is angry; describe her actions and expressions. If you learn nothing else, absorb this.
Are you a writer? What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor?