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8 Ways to Improve Your Writing Immediately

Is it possible to improve your writing instantly? The answer, happily, is "yes."

While researching a book on famous speeches and essays, I found eight easily correctable mistakes writers often make. Here they are?and how to correct them instantly.

1. UNFOCUSED SUBJECT ? Focus on a single theme only. Every sentence and paragraph should reinforce that topic.

2. TOO LONG ? Abraham Lincoln crafted his Gettysburg Address in less than 300 words. Unless I'm specifically asked to do otherwise, I try to condense my work to one double-spaced single page (about 250 words).

3. WEAK PREMISE ? Can you state the major focus of your message in 20 words or less?

4. NO ATTENTION-GRABBER ? The first sentence or two must quickly attract the reader. Two ways to do this: (a) ask a question or (b) reveal a discovery.

5. UNLINKED PARAGRAPHS ? Each paragraph should logically lead to the next. One way some writers do this: (a) quickly write several paragraphs on a subject; ((b) prioritize them; (c) present them in descending order from most important to least important; (d) conclude by restating the two or three most important points.

6. PASSIVE VERBS ? Passive verbs like is, am, was, and were simply exist. Action verbs run, jump, excite, and motivate.

7. BORE FACTOR ? Some research says the average adult attention span is only eight seconds. So it's important to make your points convincingly, and end your paper powerfully.

8. WEAK ENDING ? Exit your report like an experienced stage performer?leave your audience wanting more. Two ways to do this: (a) use a famous quote to reinforce your conclusion, or (b) give details showing the reader where to get more information on the subject. (Examples: your phone, fax, e-mail, etc.)

Rix Quinn writes the nationally syndicated weekly newspaper humor feature "Poor Rix's Almanac" for DBR Media.

His new book "Words That Stick" is available from your local bookstore, or from He can be reached by phone at 817-920-7999.

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