Here's some techniques I've learned over the course of my college career and writing columns online. Just to give you some background on me, I majored in theatre and minored in mass communications, both of which I focused on writing. I have also been the person that all my friends have turned to for editing their papers.
Here are some general writing techniques/advice:
1. Always read over your work before submitting it. Never let a first draft reach the eyes of anyone else. If you're gonna show it to someone else, read it at least once, if not twice. They're really going to respond better if you have fewer typos and gramatical errors.
2. Here's one thing that has always helped me improve my writing - reading it aloud. You can catch a lot of missed words and bad sentence structure this way. This is the best way I've found to stop run-on sentences. If you can't say it easily, then break it up into two sentences.
3. Another technique that, I have to be honest, is tedious to do, but will greatly improve your writing. Start at the end of your piece of writing. Look at the last sentence and analyze. Then go back a sentence and analyze it. Keep going backwards one sentence at a time and you'll find any errors you might have missed. This is because when you read it forwards, you know what it should say so you don't always actually read what is really on the screen.
4. Use spell-check, but don't rely on it. Keep a dictionary close at hand. Also a theasarus for variety in your word choice. Expand your vocabulary.
5. Distance yourself from your writing. After you finish writing it, don't look at it for a while (I try to leave it alone for a couple of days, but when I'm pushed at a deadline, I give it at least two hours). When you come back, your mind should be blank enough to allow you to effectively edit it. It won't be so fresh in your mind so you'll actually read what you wrote.
6. Let a friend read it over, but remember advice #1. Be kind to them by fixing as many of the mistakes a spossible. They'll be able to help you much better if you do.
7. Keep writing. That's gotta be the best way to improve. Just keep writing and keep pushing yourself to improve. And ask for feedback if you want it.
1. For writing online, your paragraphs should be short. Only 3 or 4 sentences, 4 to 5 lines at the most. This makes it easier for the reader to read it on the screen. A long paragraph will easily lose a reader.
2. Chunk your ideas - only 1 idea per paragraph.
3. Use headings to seperate your ideas.
4. Use sub-headings or lists to further break things down. It doesn't have to be simplistic, but being organized is always a good thing.
5. Put things in a logical order so that it flows from one section to another.
6. Begin at the beginning. It is always a good idea to have an introduction so the reader will know what to expect. A summary at the end is not necessary, but you should have some sort of conclusion. Don't just suddenly cut off. You could just thank the readers for their time, maybe tell them about what you'll be writing next... that sort of thing.
That's all I can think of for now. I'll try to pull out some of my old handouts from class soon and see what more advice I can give you all.
1. Have a thesis. Know what you're writing about and have a point to make. While you can still have filler and be funny or desriptive, you ultimately leave the reader disappointed if you are not saying something new about your topic.
2. Don't wait to long to present your thesis, otherwise you risk alienating the reader.
3. Know your audience. Know if you can get away with certain jargon and how easily they can be offended.
4. Know your audience, but don't write for them. You write for yourself, don't write what you think others want to hear.
5. Don't be pretentious. This is real easy to do. You think everyone's gonna be reading your column so you need to impress them with $5 words and fancy grammer tricks. Wrong. The best column writing is usually the simplest. Write how you normally would. I, for example, liek to write how I would talk in a conversation.