I–along with most authors–struggle with certain elements of creative writing on a pretty regular basis. Passive verbs, over-writing, adverb overuse, pacing, and sentence structure are just a few of the issues that we have to try to overcome in order to write beautiful prose.
Thankfully, there is a handy guide to help: The Economist’s Style Guide.
This style guide contains elements from the book that The Economist (the newspaper) gives to all its new journalists. It contains simple, useful tips and tricks on how to be the best possible writer!
Some of the tips include:
Do not be stuffy. It’s usually better to write for the “common man” than to try too hard to make your work sound intelligent. You’ll fail more often than you’d think!
Do your best to be lucid. The clearer your writing, the easier it will be for your reader to understand what you’re trying to say.
Clear thinking is the key to clear writing. The more you understand what you are trying to say, the more clearly you will be able to say it.
Use the language of everyday speech, not that of spokesmen, lawyers or bureaucrats. If you’re “pompous” or “long-winded” in your writing, you may end up confusing your readers or highlighting your own ignorance. Write plain!
The aim is not just to tell readers what you think, but to persuade them; if you use arguments, reasoning and evidence, you may succeed.
This is some of the advice given in The Economist style guide, and there is a lot more you’ll find quite handy when writing, including:
How to use abbreviations
The proper use of adjectives and adverbs
How and when to use jargon; when to clarify
How to use “new ” words
How to find horrible words
and the list goes on!
It’s quite a lengthy guide, but it’s worth checking out for some basic rules on creative writing.