15 Online Resources to Upgrade your Writing Skills

By Sharon Crosby

Improving upon the writing includes a number of different aspects to be taken care of so as to have a cohesive structure in writing, while keeping the content engaging and interesting.
This article takes a look at 15 online resources that can greatly help in improving one’s writing across different aspects of the process.

Define the Structure and Style of your Writing
The structure of the writing is of prime importance as it decides as to whether a reader will be kept engaged or not. Poor structure in writing often repels readers and should definitely be avoided. Once a good structure is achieved, a style of writing can also be developed. The following online tools and resources can prove to be really helpful in providing handy tips on defining the style and structure of writing.

1. EssayMama’s Writing Guide

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EssayMama is quite well-known as an online resource that both provides writing services and offers tips and guides on writing. The website is known to be helpful for people who deal with having to produce content on a daily basis and the guidelines and tips will definitely help individuals understand how to produce quality writing content in a short period of time. The guide tells how to compose an excellent structure for your writing, so this resource is advised to be used at the beginning of your writing process.

2. The Elements of Style

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The Elements of Style is probably one of the most acclaimed and insightful books that delves into the different styles of writing and defines the various processes that are used in it. The online version of this book proves to be useful both in practical writing and also in understanding the various rules and norms of using language in writing.

Buy it here
 

3. The Economist Style Guide

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The Economist is an established and reputed brand and their style guide on writing can prove to be extremely helpful. Following the guide will help individuals to write in the style of formal announcements and releases, while keeping readers as engaged and informed as possible.

4. Guide to Grammar and Style

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Jack Lynch’s book on the Guide to Grammar and Style is one which is highly recommended. Not only does it offer practical tips which can very easily be applied in one’s writing, but it also proves to be quite useful in understanding how the rules are derived and what effect proper usage of style can prove to achieve. The book is available as an online e-book for quick reference.

5. Manual of Style

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The Manual of Style is the defining set of guidelines for creating the structure and style of writing Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia articles are written to serve the purpose of being as informative as possible to readers and should have a level of consistency in terms of style and cohesion. This manual must be referred to if somebody intends on writing Wikipedia articles.

Make your Writing Accurate
It is essential to keep one’s writing and grammar as accurate as possible. Mistakes in writing are not seen upon too kindly and should be avoided at all costs. The following online resources can help keep one’s grammar in check and also make writing more accurate.

6. The Guide to Grammar and Writing

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Available in a number of levels sorted out to serve different aspects of the writing process, this resource is a must use for anyone looking to deal with writing on a frequent basis.

7. Using English Punctuation Correctly

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Incorrectly used punctuation can completely change the interpretation of a sentence and it is essential to always use punctuation correctly so as to convey accurate meaning. This resource helps keep punctuation in writing checked.

8. Grammar Girl

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Grammar Girl is a well-known online resource which helps with different aspects of writing. There are quick tips offered which can greatly help in keeping writing correct at all times.

9. Paradigm Online Writing AssistantScreen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.27.01 AM

This online assistant provides to be very handy as a resource for free-writing and different aspects of writing. An established and reputed resource, it is frequently visited by writers from all over the world.

10. The Tongue Untied

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This is a very useful guide to styling, punctuation and grammar which also provides a curriculum and practice tests for improving upon one’s writing. There are also writing workshops featured on this website.

Get Practical Tips on Writing

Practical writing can prove to have some subtleties and nuances that are not very easily visible at the first go. In order to write successfully, one needs practical tips from time to time from experts. These resources can help do just that.

11. The Write Practice

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Covering tips on different aspects ranging from effective writing practices right down to lifestyle tips for writers, this resource must be visited by every serious writer.

12. The Creative Penn

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A highly informative and useful blog covering different aspects of writing and publishing, which also provides useful tips on entrepreneurship and marketing related to writing.

13. Writers and Artists

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This website contains the most practical and useful advice which is considered widely useful across the industry. The resource features guides, articles, tips, interview section and much more from acclaimed and respected people involved in the industry.

14. Writing Room

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The Writing Room is somewhat of a social platform for writers where they can communicate with each other and can review and help each other out. Contests on writing are often held on this website which can be quite helpful.

15. TheWriteLife

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TheWriteLife is a freelancing website for writes which can help writers collaborate and create content in order to earn money. The community of the website is quite large and the resource proves to be helpful in a number of ways for freelance writers.

Writing can serve not just as an outlet of individual passion, but can also prove to be a valuable source of income for many. The purpose of communication is quite well served and writing certainly plays a big role. And nowadays to produce more engaging content every writer needs to look for any opportunity to improve his writing skills.

Top 10 Authors Who Ignored The Basic Rules of Punctuation

By May Huang

While the majority of sentences in published texts (including this article) depend on punctuation to make sense, the literary world is nonetheless no stranger to great writers who have famously forgone punctuation conventions and gotten away with it. Here are 10 writers whose usage of punctuation (or lack thereof) has both bewildered and impressed readers:

  1. E.E. Cummings

Both a Harvard graduate and World War I veteran, E.E. Cummings famously abandoned conventional syntax in nearly all his poems. For example, the standard rules of capitalization and punctuation find themselves ignored in Cummings’ “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r,” which at first read – or should I say ‘look’ – seems cryptic. The colons, commas and other punctuation marks are instead used to great visual effect, seeming more like embellishments than grammatical requisites.

However, that didn’t stop critics from hailing him as one of the most notable of 20th century American poets – Cummings received over 10 awards for his poems in his lifetime, including the Guggenheim Fellowship.

  1. James Joyce   

Born in Dublin in 1882, James Joyce is another punctuation-rule-defier whose works have been recognized as among the best of English literature. Ulysses, Joyce’s 256,000+ word long chef-d’oeuvre, is a difficult novel to digest, primarily due to its length, stream of consciousness style and – you know it –  its punctuation. Inconducive to one’s understanding of the novel is the inconvenient fact that out of the 24048 words in the novel’s final episode, Penelope (also known as Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy), only 2 full stops and 1 comma can be found.

Way to end a novel on an unforgettable note. Thankfully, countless study guides have been written to help struggling readers digest the tome.

  1. Cormac McCarthy

Long considered a potential candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Cormac McCarthy, a reclusive yet Hollywood-recognized American novelist and screenwriter, is also not a fan of punctuation.  Quotation marks – “weird little marks,” as he puts it in an interview with Oprah – find themselves shunned in his works, which include No Country for Old Men (adapted into an Academy-award winning film) and the Pulitzer-Prize winning, post-apocalyptic novel The Road. “I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it,” McCarthy told Oprah. “I mean, if you write properly you shouldn’t have to punctuate.” With a slew of literary awards under his belt, Cormac McCarthy certainly is not one to challenge when it comes to defining “writing properly”.

  1. José Saramago

 

Portugal-born Nobel Prize winner José Saramago also adopts idiosyncratic punctuation in his writing, and is quoted by The Economist for having once remarked, “Punctuation … is like traffic signs, too much of it distracted you from the road on which you traveled.”

In fact, it seems that eschewing quotation marks is not so atypical anymore; the poor symbols are often the first to go when it comes to abandoning punctuation conventions. Without using so much as a line break during the characters’ dialog exchange in All the Names, Saramago relies on only a capital letter to signpost a switch in speaker:

“Then I’ll wait until things calm down, And then, I don’t know, I’ll think of something, You could resolve the matter right now, How, You could phone her parents …” (All The Names, p.65)

  1. Marcel Proust

20th century French writer Marcel Proust also defied standard punctuation conventions.

His masterpiece In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), a 7-volume exploration of involuntary memory, is recognized as one of the defining works of French literature; however, it was rejected by many publishers due to Proust’s punctuation choices.  Lost time isn’t the only thing searched for in the novel –  so is a full stop in the 601-word long run-on sentence (847 words in the original French text) in the first volume, Swann’s Way.
The sentence, amongst many others in In Search of Lost Time, is indeed a stunning example of sophisticated, literary rambling; at least Proust used commas.

  1. William Faulkner

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949  and two Pulitzer Prizes over the course of his career, American writer William Faulkner is another writer whose punctuation choices did not hinder his critical success. “The Sound and the Fury”, considered to be one of the finest Southern Literature books (and soon to be adapted into a film by James Franco), is no doubt Faulkner’s masterpiece. Yet one will not get through it without coming across paragraphs that look a lot like this:

“My God the cigar what would your mother say if she found a blister on her mantel just in time too look here Quentin we’re about to do something we’ll both regret I like you liked you as soon as I saw you I says he must be …” (The Sound and the Fury, p.105)

Faulkner’s advice to tackling it? “Read it four times.”

  1. Samuel Beckett

The second French writer and fourth Nobel Prize laureate featured on this list, Irish writer Samuel Beckett is perhaps best remembered for writing Waiting for Godot, which – although originally written in French – was voted the best modern play in English in 1998 .Yet, unknown to many, Beckett also wrote a three-part monolog titled How It Is about a man’s journey through mud – a journey that Beckett chronicles in 147 pages with… zero punctuation marks. Zilch. However, considering how the protagonist spends the whole novel blundering through the tenebrous dark, the absence of punctuation – of solid sentence structure – is quite apt.

“I see me on my face close my eyes not the blue the others at the back and see me on my face the mouth opens the tongue comes out lolls in the mud and no questions of thirst either no question of dying of thirst either all this time vast stretch of time” (How It Is, page.8-9)

  1. Junot Díaz

Author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and current creative writing professor at MIT, Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz also finds no problem with abandoning certain punctuation marks from his writing. In fact, when confronted during an  interview  with a student from Harvard about omitting quotation marks in “Drown,” Díaz responded, “What happens when you get rid of them? I wanted to have parts where you can’t tell if somebody thinks or speaks. That’s the way memory is. I wanted to confuse that.” Moreover, the fact that Díaz is the 3rd Pulitzer Prize winning writer on this list just goes to show how keeping up punctuation norms isn’t a prerequisite for literary success.

  1. Gertrude Stein

 

A prominent figure from the Modernist Literature movement (along with Joyce, Cummings and Faulkner), Gertrude Stein was born in America but lived in France for most of her life with her partner, Alice Toklas. Stein didn’t like commas very much and made this quite clear in Lectures in America, in which she called the comma “a poor period that lets you stop and take a breath but if you want to take a breath you ought to know yourself that you want to take a breath.” Stein even went as far as to tell a reporter , “Punctuation is necessary only for the feeble-minded.” Ouch. Thus, the comma and other punctuation marks are mostly shunned in her works; Stein favored short sentences instead and even wrote a play in 1932 titled Short Sentences, consisting of around 600, roughly 5-word sentences.

  1. Timothy Dexter

Without the same literary acclaim that the preceding nine writers have gained, Massachusetts-born businessman and writer Timothy Dexter is perhaps best remembered for having (in)famously faked his own death. Nonetheless, 8 years before his (real) death, he published “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress,” an 8000+ word novel that is so poorly punctuated and misspelled that the original transcription is near-illegible.

Here is an excerpt from the book, on building bridges:

“No 3 fouder there is plenty of Complant of the diffulty of pasing those briges Now as it is troue if those giddy people have Liberty to bould A brigg it wont pay but three or four per sent at most then they must have one halfe the passing of my brigg as I call it A mad bisness” (from Folio 2 of Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress)