Good Language Skills Required

Language is the foundation of all good writing. This is why all writers should develop a firmer grasp on their language dexterity.

In 2014 I enrolled on a course at City Lit, called Writing Skills for Creative Writers, it was ran by author Zoe Fairbairns. It covered grammar, punctuation, sentence structures, paragraphs, and verb tenses among other important building blocks of good writing. Not only did I get a handle on what adjectives and dangling modifiers were referring to exactly, but the quality of my writing improved. Unexpectedly I also learnt how to slow down my own reading, to close read consistently. 

In the world of learning (school and college), and writing there has always been plenty of composition advice. Some of it good, some of it bad, and some just far too pretentious to be understood. For most us, there is a good writing composition advice guide out there with our name on it. However we tend to comprehend the reality of these skills through consistent practice and concise feedback.

Good writing is about awareness: Engaging with the precise nature of language’s nuts and bolts helps us regain a confidence in our own knowledge, as well as corroding our ignorance. It helps us recognise repetition, clichés, run-on sentences to nowhere, misuse of the passive voice, and redundant paraphrases.

To quote E. B. White

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer makes all sentences short, or avoid all the details and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Use definite, specific, concrete language; as apposed to the general, the vague or the abstract.

One could argue that close reading is a good educator of good writing, and this is true. But it’s knowledge of language that enables a reader to become a writer that can write with a fluidity and confidence. One of the reason we often stop writing besides the crushing doubts and lack of experience, is because we realise just how little language dexterity we possess.


As writing is hard work, don’t let it be in vain. Treat the foundational blocks of writing with respect. Get to know your language.

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