The number one tip for good writing has nothing to do with knowing a noun from a verb, or understanding run-on sentences and sentence fragments, or distinguishing a comma from a semicolon. It is what I have said in all my books and courses on writing:
If we apply our natural fluency with language, we could fix most of our mangled prose without any help—or, at least, without any help after a brief instructional period. Reading those sentences that we wrote in haste will aid us in detecting ambiguity, repetition, awkwardness, and lifelessness. The practice will make us change sentences like:
Read your document aloud to hear how it sounds. If you stumble over your words, or feel you’re rambling, or get to the end of the sentence and forgot what you wrote at
its beginning, then fix the sentence by saying what you wrote as if your readers
were standing in front of you. Then simply copy what you’ve said.
There are times that circumstances dictate when people have to act forthrightly
and boldly, you have to stand up for yourself, honestly, to fight against all
kinds of oppression.
I’ll be looking at the four benefits of reading drafts aloud—clarity, conciseness, grace, and vigor—one at a time in the next four posts of WORDS ON THE LINE.
People sometimes encounter situations that demand bold action against