Writing tip #2: Don’t write the first sentence first.
Before you write a complete sentence, kick-start your writing-brain with a bit of planning.
Step 1. Analyse your audience. More
Step 2. Write down what you want to achieve with your piece of writing (for example, ‘to give practical tips on how to overcome writers’ block').
Step 3. Write down any words that relate to your topic (think 'who', 'what', 'where’, 'when', 'why' and 'how').
Step 4. Order your ideas into an outline (a series of headings that follow a logical order).
Step 5. Go over your outline and delete any words or phrases that don’t fit with your aim.
The key to overcoming writers' block is to get some words down – any words connected to your topic. At this stage it doesn’t matter about the actual words you use – these are your planning notes. More
What is the difference between a hyphen and a dash?
The dash is longer than a hyphen and is used to punctuate sentences. For example, 'We had a wonderful holiday – but I can see you’re not really interested.' The dash used in the previous sentence is known to typesetters as a ‘spaced en rule’. More
The hyphen (-) is used to punctuate words (for example, well-being, four-fifths). More
Be careful! A dash rather than a hyphen is used to replace the word 'to' in spans of numbers (for example, pages 1–10 not pages 1-10). Always use the word 'to', rather than a dash, when presenting spans of numbers in text – this will make your writing more professional.
OK is the most successful and widespread of English words. Adopted by almost every language in the world, it is also the most grammatically versatile word in the English language. It can be written as OK or okay, but okay is preferred in narrative text (text without quoted speech).
Source: Bryson, B 1990, Mother tongue: the English language. Penguin Books, London; Hughes, B (ed.) 1993, The Penguin working words: an Australian guide to modern English usage, Penguin Books, Australia.
Do you have a question? Email us your question about any aspect of English grammar, or writing, and we’ll give you the answer in a future edition of Wise Words.
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