Improving Written Communication

Discussion in 'Languages' started by RobertPGH1981, Sep 15, 2018.

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  1. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello All,

    Some background for myself to provide more context before I ask a question.

    When growing up I attended Pittsburgh Public schools and never took interest in education. When attending college I realized I was behind and had to work extra hard at catching up. Now that I am older, I feel like there is room for improvement in my ability to improve upon my written communication. Friends have mentioned I could take brush up courses on english online, or even to go as far as learning Latin to increase my understanding of the language.

    With that said, I am seeking recommendations on how to improve in this area. What would you recommend?

    Thank you,

  2. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Hello, brother. I have done quite a bit of research on this topic. I am an aspiring* author that slacked off in school for various reasons. The number #1 book I have seen recommended time and time again is "Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. And E. B. White. Also, YouTube has been a phenomenal tool. There are so many great videos at your disposal on there. An author friend just recommended an online class to me recently. Unfortunately, I can't remember the website. I will ask him and report back. Some other great advice I have received is take notice of what your favorite authors are doing. Reading, reading, and more reading will do so much for your development. Another great book is the "Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation" by Jane Straus. A nice dictionary and thesaurus will do wonders for your vocabulary. I read mostly ancient books so I use Noah Webster's "American Dictionary of the English Language (1828 Facsimile Edition)."

    PS. The advice to learn Latin is a great idea. I recently started that venture myself. I developed a home course based on suggestions from a Latin professor that I met. Wheelock and the accompanying material is the way to go.

    In Christ,
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
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  3. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Read and write.

    If you read good writing, you'll develop a sense for putting words together well. Newberry award winners (for children's literature) and Pulitzer winners for journalism and novels give great examples to follow. Don't assume literature means a grinding routine of laborious reading. Surely these prize-winners give a wide range of enjoyable choices.

    Write! Does your church or workplace have a newsletter? Adult education programs often offer writing classes. Look for a program that makes you produce prose or fiction.

    I've seen two major difficulties when people are unsure of their skills. Beginning journalists were often reluctant to commit writing to screen. Electrons are cheap -- run with your ideas and if you hate it, give it another go.

    Later, when working with scientists for a general audience, they wanted to impress their colleagues with terms d'art and stiff academic jargon. The less you impress and the more you use straight-forward writing, the better you'll communicate.

    For a reference, I recommend Edit Yourself. It helps a writer make better word choices. Style guides are helpful only if you know what you're looking for and are meeting particular publication standards.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  4. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    As Jean said: read and write.

    But there is one other thing....


    So, Read, Write, and then Read What You Wrote.

    (And my apologies for picking on you, Robert) ;)
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Haha No worries. A great opportunity to teach an important lesson! Another lesson, don't post pre-caffeine.
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  6. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    I'll second Strunk and White. It will give you the basic foundation.
  7. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    What if my work is incredibly inspiring?
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I don't think you need to take a class. Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and/or William Zinsser's On Writing Well will teach you all you need to know. They ought to make you (1) want to improve your writing and (2) feel like you know how to improve, and those two things make a huge difference. Also, as others have said, read good books so that you absorb the rhythm of good writing.
  9. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello All,

    Thank you for all the great recommendations. I ordered the book on amazon and started to think of ways to write more. I really like the idea of a Church newsletter and I am sure the Church elders would agree with the idea as well. Maybe even starting a blog as well. Sounds like I have a lot of reading ahead of me. hehe


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