Self Improvement Non-Fiction posted October 21, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level

A Really, Really, Very Good Essay

by michaelcahill

Writing Contest Winner 

I've been here a little over a year now. I suppose I'm no longer a newbie. I still feel like one though. I signed on as a free verse poet with a few short stories to share. I had never had anyone other than a couple girlfriends and my wife view my work. I would say that terrified would accurately describe my feeling as I posted my first piece.
My first posting was a lovely six thousand-word story. It had no paragraphs and was single-spaced. The dialogue was sandwiched right in with the narrative. Isn't that convenient! I had spent most of my time during grammar instruction in school being an extremely amusing and disruptive classmate. I was certain that I would never need grammar. Therefore, the grammar in my six thousand-word masterpiece was comical in nature.
The lovely people here were actually kind to me in responding. They informed me what a proper posting should look like and even began to instruct me as to where a comma might be effective and the importance of a strange thing called tense. Apparently, one cannot exist in the past, present and future all at the same time. That is a good tip!
The funny thing is I thought it was the most dazzling piece that had ever been posted here. My ego was of a magnitude that even peacocks would look at me and shake their heads in wonder. I don't need to tell you that my ego fit into a thimble after about a week.
A funny thing happened though; I began to learn how to write. The people here taught me. All I had to do was check my ego at the door and listen. I did pause for a second to consider whether I was willing to do that or not. I'm here, so my decision should be obvious.
Now, some advice. Check your ego at the door. Listen to what people here tell you. That is the basic formula for becoming a better writer.
Here are some practices I've adopted for prose. I call them my post-it notes before posting. Remove the words, "very" and "really" from your pieces. Don't even read the sentences they are in, just remove them. Then look for "was" and "were". Try to reword the sentences that have those words in them. Look for the pronoun, "I". Try to eliminate over usage of it. There are reasons for all of these points. Go find out what they are. I guarantee you that if you do those few things; you will vastly improve your story.
These are just a few tips given to me by excellent reviewers. I have them written on post-it notes stuck on my computer. I go through my pieces and check all three of those things before I post. Yes, there are reasons for doing all of those things. However, your piece will still be better if you do them even if you don't know the reason.

I also check for "that". That's a personal problem that I have. That is a word that I use too often. That word often isn't that necessary and that is a fact that I often forget. If you do that too, put that on a "that" post-it note and stick that on your computer.
Don't worry about stars. Most reviews are five stars. Most reviews are also meaningless. Most people don't love your piece and they don't think it is excellent. In general, most reviewers find your work to be okay and readable without any horrific flaws. If it does have horrific flaws, most reviewers won't tell you. The best reviews I have received have been four stars with specific reasons for them. Those are the reviews that have taught me things to improve my writing. (Yes, there are four star reviews from idiots that know nothing. Celebrate your superiority and thank God that you aren't them. What a lucky day for you!)
The best review I ever received was a three star rating. This wonderful reviewer rewrote my entire story and corrected all the mistakes including tense. It was the turning point in my writing career. I could see right in front of me what my work would look like IF I had written it properly. What I had submitted was embarrassing to be honest. No one else bothered to tell me. Keep that in mind when you read your reviews.
I'd name the wonderful woman who took the time to make a writer out of me, but I'm afraid you'd all bury her with your posts! Rest assured there are many reviewers here that care in the same way. If you want to learn, there are many teachers here. It is up to you. No one here has any excuse not to improve. Everything you need to improve is here and there is no extra charge for any of it.

If you are interested in making a quicker impact on your writing skills, there are classes available taught by experts in virtually every aspect of writing. They are available at a very modest price right here on site. These are small sized classes with plenty of one on one instruction from people that we all know and trust. What more could you ask for!
Remember, we are all writers here. If you have questions, ask. There is nothing we love to do more than write. You will get answers believe me. You may get a more detailed answer than you bargained for!


Writing Prompt
Write a story or essay with the topic of "writing". Can be instructional or a character in the story can be a writer. Creative approaches welcomed.

Contest Winner


Ha! Everyone is guessing Rama Devi. You would be correct if we were talking about poetry. Indeed she is the lovely lady that gave me many threes and fours and taught me the nuances of poetry. But, it was another wonderful woman that helped me with prose. Let's say it was Ingrid. That way those of you who don't know her can't send her all your SPAG filled work cause you don't know her site name. Hahaha!!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2018. michaelcahill All rights reserved. Registered copyright with FanStory.
michaelcahill has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.