Wise-Women List Archive File

Improving One's Writing Skills

Question:
I am interested in improving my writing skills. Do any of you have recommendations for books to read or web sites to visit?


I'm new to this list, but I thought I might be able to help you -- the best training I found for writing was journalism training, and journalism-focused writing books. After a firm basis in that, public relations, marketing/advertising, and business writing are very useful forms of writing, especially for most web site writing. So, if possible, see if you can take some journalism courses at a local college, or through an online reputable university (The New School has some good online writing courses: http://www.dialnsa.edu/ ), and here are some books that I've found useful:

The Write Way, by Richard Lederer and Richard Dowis
Words' Worth, by Terri Brooks
The Word, by Rene J. Cappon
The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White

Also, like design, one of the best ways to learn about writing is to expose yourself to some good examples of it, and try to figure out what makes them good. And of course, practice - write every day, even if only a little bit.


My recommendation would be to read whatever helps you to fall in love with language.

I have a load of fun reading word skills books. Also, find someone who's a better writer and work with that person. It's like tennis---you improve if you write with someone who makes you work...or play, depending on your fancy.

There are great books out there. Writers are very fortunate in that, unlike philosophers, for example, they generally have to be pretty good writers to write about writing well.

Start with Strunk and White. Then read some of White's essays. They're elegant! They're intelligent! Discover what you love, and then try to decide why.


If you are talking about writing for the web, then I suggest you read the book we are using for one of our texts. It is "Writing for the Web" (Geeks Edition). It is not very long, but it addresses several issues in web writing as well as offering a list of commonly misspelled/misused words, etc. The author is Crawford Kilian. If you need other books on writing, I can get you a list....just finished up a degree in Professional Writing! If you are interested, I can send you (off list) a list of resources I compiled when I had a tech writing class a few semesters ago. Let me know.