Top 10 Tools to Improve Your Writing (Part 1)

pen
“The natural state of all writing is mediocrity.” – Ira Glass

Always looking to learn something new, I’m constantly striving to find new ways to take my writing to the next level. Here is a set of 10 tools which should help any budding writer improve.

1. Improve Readability with MS-Word

The Flesch-Kincaid tests are readability tests designed to indicate how difficult a reading passage is to understand. Using simple calculations, it is able to break down text to gauge the level of education needed to grasp the writing, and how hard it is to comprehend overall.

What most people don’t know is MS-Word actually comes with this test built in, so you can rate any document you produce in a few easy steps.

readability

2. Cut Down Cliches with Cliche Finder

Improve your writing by letting it come more from the heart rather than phrases which have been overused to the point of losing its intended force. Cliche finder helps identify common cliches in your writing so you can consider rewording them. It also comes with a handy bookmarklet so you can find them on any web page.

3. Look Up Words With TheSage’s Cross Application Dictionary

dictionary

A very complete dictionary and thesaurus package, TheSage can look up words directly from almost any program (IE, Word, Firefox, Outlook, Thunderbird…). It is also 100% portable and can be run off a USB drive. Completely free of course.

4. Eliminate Spelling Errors With Firefox 2

firefox One of Firefox’s best built in features has got to be its inline spell checker which helps eliminate spelling errors as you type!

If you’re using Internet Explorer 7, you can get this functionality by installing the IE7Pro plugin, or ieSpell if you’re on version 6. Then again, why bother when you should be using the far superior Firefox in the first place?

5. Learn Top Writing Techniques

lifehack

Lifehack.org has assembled a huge collection of 50 tips from the Poynter Institute which should help any writer.

“You will become handy with these techniques over time, and begin to recognize their use in the stories you read. You will see chances to apply them when you revise your own work. Eventually, they will become part of your flow, natural and automatic…”

What writing tips or tools can you share? Tell us in the comments!

Liked this article? Check out part 2 of the series.

[tags]writing, writer, writing tips, [/tags]

301 Responses to “Top 10 Tools to Improve Your Writing (Part 1)”

  1. AndersonWu says:

    Wonderful!
    For spell checker, Firefox 2 need add a dictionary of your language before it can check the error.
    Both IE7Pro and Firefox 2 support multi language and IE7Pro can work at IE6 as well as iespell. See http://www.ie7pro.com/spell-checker.html.
    BTW, Google tools bar can do as good as IE7Pro spell check.

  2. James Yeang says:

    Thanks for all the tips Anderson – really appreciate them!

  3. vijayakumaran says:

    Readability is a good topic. The ultimate aim of any writing is to encourage people and kindle their interest to read the article or whatever.

  4. […] James Yeang of FriedBeef.com shows you 10 tools that will help you improve your writing [Part 1] [Part […]

  5. […] James Yeang of FriedBeef.com shows you 10 tools that will help you improve your writing [Part 1] [Part […]

  6. Chris says:

    As Garrison Keillor had one of his characters say in his novel Radio Romance: ‘The willingness to perform is no guarantee of talent’.
    More would-be writers should edit themselves for, interest and value before offering up their musings.
    An example might be blogging. Too many bloggers have nothing to say. There are no ideas and no passion and yet they mistakenly imagine that the world has the time or inclination to wade through their thoughts committed to text. There is more to it than that at least there should be. Wit would be nice, and sarcasm, while being the lowest form of wit, may be the highest form of intelligence, so I can accept that in a piece of work.
    I simply urge any writer who would have kept a diary or perhaps just the thoughts in his head to keep doing that. Go public when you really have something to say.

  7. James Yeang says:

    Well said Chris, well said :)

  8. The Flesch-Kincaid test can also be done using Google Docs & Spreadsheets. This is one of the new features of Google Docs just added in the last week.

  9. anonymous says:

    That last one is a cheat. Here’s my version, then:

    #1) Ask Slashdot for writing tips
    #2) Check writing.com for writing tips.
    #3) Buy a book on writing
    #4) Click “Stumble!” on the Firefox extension until you get to a writing site
    #5) Take a writing course

  10. Don’t be forget to use a proofreading service for a true professional shine to your writing.

  11. Kokila says:

    http://www.thesaurus.com thats a one of my fav tools. whenever I need to find a synonym for a word, I always look it up on thesaurus.com

  12. Great article, I always keep myself looking for new tips and ways on how to improve my writing and one of my favorite mentor on learning how to write a book is Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

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