Writing Tools
Find tips and techniques here to make your writing – whether it’s news writing or academic writing – better.

Ten tools to help you improve your English writing

The International Journalists’ Network offers these 10 tools to improve your writing.


How do you focus on a complex issue?

Tell the story simply, with clarity. Cut out the jargon. How? Here are 7 ways to avoid jargon in your writing. 

How to be a better storyteller


Four free writing tools for storytellers:

  • Hemingway: An app that helps you write better.
  • Grammarly: A smart grammar checker.
  • ZenPen: The minimal writing tool of web.
  • Draft: Easy version control and collaboration
Here are the first 11 Writing Tools:

1. Begin sentences with subjects and verbs. Make meaning early, then let weaker elements branch to the right.
2. Order words for emphasis. Place strong words at the beginning and at the end.
3. Activate your verbs. Strong verbs create action, save words and reveal the players.
4. Be passive aggressive. Use passive verbs to showcase the “victim” of action.
5. Watch those adverbs. Use them to change the meaning of the verb.
6. Take it easy on the -ings. Prefer the simple present or past.
7. Fear not the long sentence. Take the reader on a journey of language and meaning.
8. Establish a pattern, then give it a twist. Build parallel constructions, but cut across the grain.
9. Let punctuation control pace and space. Learn the rules, but realize you have more options than you think.
10. Cut big, then small. Prune the bigs limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.
11. Prefer the simple over the technical. Use shorter words, sentences and paragraphs at points of complexity.

Identify passive voice – with Zombies

Rebecca Johnson, a professor of culture and ethics at the United States Marine Corps, has the best advice ever for dealing with passive voice. If you’re still confused about the difference between passive and active voice, simply add the  add the phrase “by zombies” after the verb. If it works, your sentence has passive voice.


Passive Voice = She was chased [by zombies].

Active Voice = Zombies chased [by zombies] her.

Voila! Now there’s a simple and fun way to identify when you’re using passive voice.

Write short sentences. Avoid wackiness

This post from Jim Romensko’s blog pleads with writers to craft short sentences. The sentences should be fewer than 30 words long, the post recommends. The writer of the post uses three examples to show why writing short, clear sentences is imperative.

Don’t use the exclamation mark!!!!
University of Tennessee journalism professor Jim Stovall succinctly explains why you should not use the exclamation mark in professional writing.

Damn the word “very”

Here’s a writing suggestion from Mark Twain: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Or, check out this handy dandy chart compiled by Amanda Patterson, founder of Writers Write. Either way, the idea is to omit “very” from your writing. I will be very angry, very bad and and very rude to those who fail to do so because, in this class, that’s a very risky course of action to follow. medium_45_ways_to_avoid_using_the_verb_very