What Are the Proper Writing Mechanics?
Writing mechanics are essential for producing clear, concise and error-free writing.
At the core of writing mechanics are the basic elements of proper writing, such as grammar, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, and other sets of rules that you’ll find listed later in this article.
If you want to learn to write like a pro, it’s essential that you master these rules in order to develop strong writing habits.
So, be prepared to invest the time that’s necessary to develop the muscle memory required to make the rules of writing mechanics become second nature.
With practice, you’ll be able to produce writing that’s clear, concise and error-free, making a great impression on your readers.
Why Are Writing Mechanics Important?
Writing mechanics are important because they help ensure that your writing follows best practices.
By mastering the basic elements of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and so on, you’ll be able to produce writing that’s polished and professional from the get go, without forcing you to waste your time on doing countless rewrites to correct errors that were avoidable.
This will not only make a good impression on your readers, but it’ll also help convey your message with precision.
To help you master these rules faster, there are a number of software tools, like Grammarly, that’ll suggest corrections as you write, so you can get instant feedback.
What Are the Rules that Make Up Writing Mechanics?
Here’s a rundown of the different sets of rules that you need to learn in order to master writing mechanics. Keep in mind that this is just meant as a basic primer. Covering each rule in detail is outside of the scope of this article.
Having said that, if you wish to go more in depth, you can either do an online search for a specific rule, or use one of the many style guides available for purchase or subscription, like The Chicago Manual of Style.
Capitalization refers to the writing of letters, words, or sentences in a specific way. This includes using a capital letter at the beginning of proper nouns, in the first word of every sentence, as well as writing acronyms in uppercase.
To master the various conventions related to capitalization, you’ll need to put in a lot of practice because there are many exceptions to the rule.
Punctuation is another key element of writing mechanics that involves using a variety of punctuation marks, such as periods, commas, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, and more.
The proper use of these punctuation marks can help to clarify the meaning of your writing and make it easier for readers to understand your message.
To master conventions related to punctuation, it’s important to carefully consider the context of each sentence and choose the appropriate punctuation mark accordingly.
To learn more about specific punctuation rules, check a popular style guide like The Chicago Manual of Style.
Spelling is another writing convention that involves constructing words correctly. This includes spelling words accurately, avoiding commonly-misspelled words, and understanding the rules for adding suffixes and prefixes.
To master writing conventions related to spelling, you’ll need to be diligent about proofreading your writing and regularly practicing writing different types of words until you can commit them to memory.
Overall, there are many writing resources available to help you master writing mechanics and improve your writing skills, including built-in spell-checkers on writing tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, as well as using real-time proofing tools like Grammarly.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
These writing conventions can be used to shorten long phrases, but they should still follow the rules of grammar and be easy for your readers to understand.
To master writing abbreviations and acronyms, you may need to consult a style guide or writing handbook, as suggested earlier, for specific guidelines.
Sentence structure errors can often be the result of poor writing style.
By following proper structure you’ll help ensure that complete sentence ideas are communicated clearly and effectively.
Here are some common sentence structure errors:
Run-on Sentences and Faulty Parallelism
Run-on sentences occur when multiple independent clauses are joined together with little or no punctuation in between. Faulty parallelism occurs when the structure of a sentence is not grammatically parallel.
This results in writing that’s difficult to understand and can make your writing seem confusing and disjointed.
Fragment errors involve writing incomplete sentences, which may be caused by including too many dependent clauses in your writing.
To avoid writing fragments, make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb and contains at least one complete clause.
Comma errors occur when sentences do not have the appropriate commas in them, resulting in either poor written form or seemingly correct form but incorrect meaning.
This can be caused by using the wrong type of comma for the occasion, omitting required commas, or using too many or too few commas in your writing.
To avoid comma errors, be sure to consult a writing handbook or style guide for guidelines on proper comma usage.
Comma splices are writing errors that occur when two independent clauses are improperly joined together using a comma.
This can make writing difficult to understand and create sentences that seem fragmented or disjointed.
To avoid comma splices, you should always use a period or semicolon to separate two independent clauses, ensure that your writing contains at least one complete clause, and consult a writing handbook or style guide for proper comma placement.
Subject-verb disagreement is a writing error that occurs when the subject and verb of a sentence do not agree in number. This can make writing difficult to understand and impact your writing style.
To avoid subject-verb disagreement errors, you should always ensure that your writing contains singular verbs for singular subjects, plural verbs for plural subjects, and agreement between subject and verb for compound subjects.
Active vs. Passive voice
Active vs. passive voice writing errors occur when you use the passive voice instead of the active voice in your writing, when the latter would achieve exactly the same result. This can make your writing difficult to understand.
To avoid active vs. passive writing errors, you should always use the active voice whenever possible, as this will allow you to communicate clearly and create writing that‘s more direct and engaging.
In writing, redundancy refers to the use of unnecessary words or phrases that add little or no value to your writing.
This can make your writing seem choppy and difficult to understand, and it can also impact the quality of your writing style.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid redundancies in your writing
- Make sure each sentence is concise and expresses a single idea
- Use specific, concrete language instead of vague terms or generalizations
- Avoid using similar words too close to each other in the same sentence
- Be careful with idiomatic expressions — sometimes they can be redundant
- Check your work for repetition using a tool like the Hemingway App
Grammar refers to the rules and conventions that govern writing. This includes using proper tenses and prepositions effectively in your writing, as well as following other key guidelines for writing well.
To master writing mechanics related to grammar, you will need to develop good writing habits and be familiar with common grammar mistakes through research and practice.
Here are some examples of common grammar mistakes to look out for:
- Incorrect verb tense
- Subject-verb agreement errors
- Misuse of pronouns
- Wrong prepositions
- Lack of article usage
- Redundant writing
Homographs, Homophones, and Homonyms
Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciations, such as “lead” (the metal) and “lead” (to guide).
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings, spellings, and origins, such as “bow” (the front of a ship) and “bough” (a main branch of a tree), or “to” (the preposition) and “two” (the number.)
Homonyms are words that are both spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings, such as “quail” (the bird) and “quail” (to cringe).
When creating content, you have to ensure that you always make the correct choice of words in the right content based on the above rules. Otherwise your writing will likely be labeled amateurish.
Parts of Speech
Parts of speech are the building blocks of writing, and understanding how to use them effectively is key for effective written communications. This includes:
- Nouns: a person, a place or a thing or object (e.g. Jane, Paris, apple)
- Adjectives: used to modify a noun (e.g. bright, sad, purple)
- Verbs: an action (e.g. eat, run, drive)
- Adverbs: used to modify or qualify an adjective, verb, or another adverb (e.g. gently, largely, quite)
- Prepositions: used to show a relationship (e.g. within, over, to)
- Conjunctions: used to join words or phrases (e.g. and, or, however)
- Interjections: an abrupt remark (e.g. oh dear, bravo, hurray)
Dialogue writing is a key skill that can help you to create content that’s engaging, realistic, and fun to read.
There are several key elements of dialogue writing that you should be aware of when crafting your story:
- Writing dialogue tags (e.g. said, whispered) to add context to the conversation
- Using proper structure and punctuation
- Avoiding writing cliches and overly familiar phrases
- Mastering the art of conveying emotion through dialogue
In writing, as with any other skill, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you’ll become at mastering the mechanics of writing.
So, be sure to take the time to study the rules related to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, capitalization, and the rest, so you can apply them effectively to create writing that’s both accurate and professional.
And don’t forget to read plenty of good books from accomplished authors so that you can learn to hone your craft from the best. With practice and patience, you too can become a master writer!
Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create books and for writers to earn a living from their work. Since then, Relay has sold 3+ million copies and worked with 100s of writers on bestselling titles such as Defending Innocence, The Alveria Dragon Akademy Series and Rancher’s Family Christmas.
Harry oversees the creative direction of the company, and works to develop a supportive collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within in order to fulfill our mission to create unputdownable books.
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