I've been writing away madly for months now, going OK, but slowly, and my sup is generally happy with my work. However, she's been mentioning that I need to improve my style - that I need to get a better flow into my work, that it needs to be more discursive, that's it's still a bit too stilted. I rewrite and rewrite, but it still doesn't seem to get there.
How have other people improved their style? I've bought 10 Lessons in Clarity and Grace, and it's really hard going. I know it would also require me to sit with my work, and go through the book and my work, making changes as I go. Which sounds really tedious and time-consuming! And I don't have a lot of time as I'm concentrating on writing up and trying to churn out chapters.
So, any tips on how to improve writing style? Am also going to talk to my sup, but would apprefciate any thoughts. Thanks.
Strunk & White 'Elements of Style' is easy going but very good. It has tips like 'Rule #17 - Omit needless words'; once submitted to memory these really help improve writing.
Most authors advise aspiring writers to read a lot and write a lot if they want to get good. Imitating authors like Edward Gibbon, Thomas Carlyle, and Ralph Emerson is a good starting point -- these guys really knew how to use the English language!
Someone gave me excellent advice before: take something you wrote a while ago (an essay or an article that you haven't thought about since writing it) and go through it and mark it as if it were written by someone else. You will very quickly notice flaws in your own style that are difficult to pick up WHILE you are writing (when you're in the writing process, it is hard to dissociate yourself from your work, and so it is hard to improve your style). Once you have identified your bad habits, try to apply it to your work as you go along.
Thanks for those suggestions everyone, will try them out. Bilbo, I think my overall structure is OK - my sup hardly ever rearranges the order of things - so I think it's more at the paragraph and sentence level. Which also needs to reflect the big picture structure of course. But will do everything people have suggested, and a copy of Strunk and White is coming over the seas to me.
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