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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2018 > STRENGTHEN YOUR FICTION

STRENGTHEN YOUR FICTION

Hone your prose to make it really effective with a writing workout from author and publisher Kerrie Flanagan

TEN sure-fire ways to

Strong writing packs a punch and has a better chance of resonating with readers. It creates vivid imagery, an engaging story and intriguing characters. With the right tools and knowledge, strengthening your writing is easier than you may think. Here are ten specific techniques to make you_a stronger writer.

1 Use strong verbs. Avoid passive verbs.

Strong verbs make your writing tighter and clearer. William Zinsser in his book, On Writing Well, states: ‘Verbs are the most important of all your tools. They push the sentence forward and give it momentum. Active verbs push hard: passive verbs tug fitfully.’

In contrast, passive verbs slow down readers and clutter writing. Instead of writing The milk had been knocked over by a cat, change it to The cat knocked over the milk. The word had been are unnecessary and end up dragging the sentence out. It is the cat who is doing the action so it should be the focus, not the milk. The forms of the verb to be are helping verbs, used with a past participle to creative passive voice. If you see sentences with them, rework them where possible to make them more active. Continuous verbs can also slow down your action in a similar way, as in the below example:

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About Writing Magazine

In this month's issue, we show you ten ways to improve your writing right now, and look at how to impress an editor and get your feature articles accepted. This month's star interview is crime bestseller and Rizzoli and Isles creator Tess Gerritsen, who opens her casebook to discuss murder, medicine and false memory. When you've polished your work and got it ready to submit, check out the Writers' News pages – packed with opportunities to get into print and competitions to enter, with £54,762 in writing prizes to be won.

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