Top 10 Things Every Writer Needs To Know 1. Strong verbs. If you can replace a "be" verb, do it.

NOT "He is swimming" but "He swims". NOT "The coin is shiny" but "The coin shines." Why? "Be" verbs just link works together; they're not punchy. Strong verbs should bear the weight of strong sentences. 2. When possible, avoid adverbs and adjectives. (Actually, a corollary to No. 1). NOT "He runs very fast" but "He bolts" or "He darts," etc. Again, the latter two examples are far punchier than the first example, which is littered with an adjective and adverb. 3. Subject-verb-object construction. It's your best friend for clarity. Ernest Hemingway revolutionized the American novel with his sparse style. It's not like it was some newfangled writing technique: he stole it from his days as a newspaperman. He used subject-verb-object, usually shunning introductory phrases, parenthetical clauses and other sentence-bogging gunk. NOT: Running for his life after 250 days in the most horribly hot desert in the world, he wiped his brow (the same one he had cut on a cactus earlier) and wept with tears as he thought about his family located 10,000 miles away. Hemingway-like. The desert sun pounded him for the 250th day. He wiped his bloodied brow. He thought of his faraway family. And he wept. The first example clutters the mind of the reader. The second one attacks with machine-gun like precision. And, with the quickened pace, it conveys a sense of urgency. 4. Avoid passive tense. NOT "The ball was thrown to me" but "He threw the ball to me." Again, as with No. 1 & No. 2, you want punchiness, and passive is not punchy. The exception would be if the object is key to the sentence's impact. For example in the opening (or lead) of story, NOT "Police arrested the Mayor Jones on drugpossession charges Tuesday" but "Mayor Jones was arrested on drug-possession charges Tuesday." Why? For one, it's implicit that police do the arresting. Moreover, the mayor and drugs are more important than the police. 5. Show people in action. For example, it's one thing to call someone hard-working and generous. But what does that mean? Better to give an example: Every Saturday mornings, he gets up at the crack of dawn to pick up aluminum cans along the roads. Then he takes them to the recycling center, which pays 50 cents a pounds. He puts the money into a bank account earmarked for the Downtown Homeless Shelter. 6. When possible (and safe), do your interview at the subject's workplace or home. There, you'll find out interesting tidbits about their life. Do they drink soda? Beer? Beer on their cornflakes? What's on their walls? What's on their desk? If it's remarkable (odd, funny, poignant, whatever), it might be fodder for your story. If not, don't bother; for instance, you don't need to write about an executive's big desk and expensive suit -- all executives have big desks and expensive suits. 7. Avoid cliches. You're a writer. Find a better, fresher way to say it. 8. Use quotes, but only when they say something better than you can write it. You're a writer. Chances are you can say things better than a source 90 percent of the time. When they say it, you'll know it. Quotation marks tell the reader "LOOK AT ME!" -- make sure that you deliver on that promise with a good quote. 9. Take a grammar class at a local college. Yes, I'm serious. Do you know when to use "that" and when to use "which"? Or why conjunctive adverbs require a comma? Or

"who" vs. "whom"? If you want your writing as grammatically book. But my experience as an it, another to have it rammed homework.

readers to take you seriously, you want to present correct. I guess you could read about grammar in a English teacher says that's it's one thing to read through your head by examples in class and plenty of

10. Read style manuals. Elements of Style, the oldie by Strunk & White, is always good. You can re-read style manuals again and again, because (unlike other fields, like medicine) the English language doesn't much evolve. And it's always good to keep pounding yourself with reminders about style concepts. Try several style manuals. I suggest reading them before sleeping, because it's not like they're exciting. But it's good stuff to know.