Updated November 2020
Looking for a checklist to help you be a better writer? I developed on based on the 6 Traits of Good Writing, created by the Northwest Writing Lab (now Education Northwest):
- Ideas — the most important thing readers should know and the details that support it
- Organization — the logical flow of paragraphs, sections and the entire piece
- Voice — the personality and tone of the writer
- Word Choice — the vocabulary used to convey meaning and set a tone
- Sentence Fluency — the sentence patterns that support meaning, create rhythm and propel readers through the piece
- Conventions — the technical criteria that make writing “correct”: spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar
Better Writing Checklist
Here's my take on the 6 traits:
- A main idea that serves the purpose and is relevant to your audience.
- Evidence, explanations and examples that support the main idea and address audience questions, concerns and objections.
- Descriptions that that show, not just tell.
- A clear and meaningful purpose and call to action.
- A beginning that entices the audience to read more.
- An ending that compels readers to think, feel and/or do.
- Logical and easy-to-follow organization.
- A voice and resulting tone that is appropriate to the subject and resonates with your audience.
- A voice that sounds like a real person.
- Strong feelings and honest statements.
4. Word Choice
- Strong verbs that show how actions are performed.
- Words that make ideas more speciﬁc and are meaningful and memorable.
- Jargon when necessary and explained as needed.
- Appropriate language for purpose and audience.
5. Sentence Fluency
- Start sentences in different ways.
- Use different lengths and structures.
- Structure sentences to make the meaning clear.
- Rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and other “effects” used appropriately and effectively.
- Correct spelling, including proper nouns.
- Punctuation that makes the writing easy to understand.
- Proper usage, particularly of technical terms.
- Grammar that makes the writing easier to understand (may not always follow rules).
Want to invest becoming a better writer?