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How to Improve your Writing Skills

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Posted 09 October 2015 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Written Communication skills training.

How to Improve Your Writing Skills

In today's world, much of your communication is in the form of the written word. You need to write emails, reports, summaries, and you need to write them in a convincing and professional manner.

However, over the last ten years, there has been a tendency for the quality of written expression to deteriorate because many people use text messaging as a form of personal communication, and that has caused some very bad literary habits. Text speech is full of abbreviations, symbols, bad grammar and worse spelling. Because we text message every day, we begin to habitualise these bad writing habits and they begin to creep into our more formal writing [lol :-)].

It would be to consciously improve the quality of your written communications.

Question: How could you consciously improve the quality of your written communications?

Answer: You could study the figures of rhetoric.

Question: What are the figures of rhetoric?

Answer: The figures of rhetoric are techniques for using language effectively and persuasively in the spoken or written form. There are about fifty figures and each one is a specific method designed to convince, influence or please your audience.

Question: Can you give us an example?

Answer: Yes. I can give you more than one example. I will give you four examples of the figures and hope that you will be inspired to find out more.

Here are the names of four of the fifty figures of rhetoric:

  • Rhetorical questions.
  • Anadiplosis.
  • Antithesis.
  • Alliteration.

1. Rhetorical Questions

Did you notice the way I used questions and answers at the beginning of this blog? I even labelled the sentences, "question" and "answer". Asking and answering questions is a natural form of spoken communication, and it is also a powerful rhetorical device.

Why is asking questions such a powerful rhetorical device? Because questions stimulate the mind and cause the other person to think.

How could you use questions in your writing to stimulate the mind of your listeners?

You could figure-out some good ways to do that, couldn't you?

2. Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis is the act of making the end of one sentence similar to the beginning of the next sentence. If you make the beginning of the next sentence the same as the end of the previous one, then you start to develop a systematic chain of thought.

The mind likes to see the development of a systematic chain of thought; since it seems to suggest a logical progression; linking one idea to the next. And logical progression, linking one idea to the next, is one of the hallmarks of clear, rational and persuasive writing.

So, if your aim is to master the art of clear, rational and persuasive writing, then you would do well to master anadiplosis, wouldn't you?

3. Antithesis

Antithesis is the technique of contrasting two opposing ideas. You put the opposing ideas next to each other to achieve a contrasting effect. Remember that contrast is an important concept. I often use this method by stating my "positive point" and then I contrast it to its contradictory opposite.

Example: I think we should go north; because if we do go north then all these good things will result. If we don't go north then look at all these bad things that will result.

Remember that "The Good" is only good by reference to "The Bad". Meaning: If there was no bad, then the good would not look so good, would it?

If there were no cold days, then a warm day would not seem so pleasant, would it?

So, in order to make your idea really stand out as THE GOOD IDEA, it is often very useful to use its antithesis as a contrast.

4. Alliteration

Alliteration is the method used by marketing men and sales superstars. Alliteration is all around us. Alliteration is the use of words starting with the same sound.

Kit Kat. Coca Cola. Micky Mouse and The Sound of Silence are examples of alliteration.

Every human heart yearns for poetic prose.

And alliteration is a magical method to manufacture fantastic phrases.

Get the idea?

Can you see the use of alliteration in my first sentence of this section?

Alliteration is the method used by all marketing men and sales superstars. Alliteration is all around us. Alliteration is the use of words starting with the same sound.

We like the sound of similar letters arranged in a logical line.

So, why not alter your style and start slipping in some alliteration?

Test your memory

Without looking at the above notes, what are the meanings of the following words?

  • Rhetorical questions.
  • Anadiplosis.
  • Antithesis.
  • Alliteration.

I hope these four examples of the rhetorical figures have inspired you to find out more. Each one you learn will be another skill you can use to improve the style of your writing.

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