Tools of the Trade

I’ve decided to go back and learn the basics of the English language.

It occurred to me the other day as I was listening to an audio cd about how to write good English. The author was one William Zinsser, and to be honest the guy really knows his stuff. His honesty and no nonsense approach to writing really struck a chord with me and I feel the guy talks a lot of sense.

He talks about a writer’s tools – the words we use, use of grammar and punctuation. These are tools we gather and learn to use as we grow as writers.

After listening I was left feeling two things. The first was that I had not gathered many tools during my relatively short and sporadic writing life. The second was that those that I have acquired are blunt, not fit-for-purpose and even, I dare say, broken.

So I’ve decided to go right back to basics. I’m currently re learning from scratch all about nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunction, pre positions, adverbs, and all sorts of other crap I didn’t even know existed.

My hope is that I will at the least fill my toolbox with fresh, new, and purpose ready tools that will allow me to form good coherent sentences.

At the end of the day I want my writing to be clear, simple and easy to understand. I don’t want to fill my pages with unnecessary clutter and make my readers experience a boring one.

So that should take care of the basics. After that its all down to experience. The only way to improve is to keep plugging away and getting those words down on paper or screen.

You can see where this is going can’t you? I have been lazy. I have not shown the self-discipline necessary to be taken seriously as a writer.

Well, there’s only one way to change that.


Author: Mark S Thompson

Okay, so these things are kind of hit and miss. If you’re reading this then I am thankful to you for taking the time out of your day to do so. I’ll be honest, when I think of myself as a writer, I kinda cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it is the dream, it's​ just I never really believe it will go anywhere. When I think back to the day that I first knew I loved writing, and I mean really knew, I see myself sitting in an English lesson at secondary school. The school was called Wrotham and is in the county of Kent, England. As far as I know, it's still there. English was far and away my favourite subject. The best bit was when the teacher gave the class a selection of words and asked us to make up a story that either contained those words or was about those words, you know. At other times we would be given the first sentence and then write what happens next. Good times. Many times my work would reflect what I had recently read and it would be okay. Nothing special, just okay. On one occasion though I wrote about a merman called Finchy and can remember going into so much depth and detail about him and the underwater kingdom he lived in. I really enjoyed writing that and it must have shown because my teacher commented on it. She was really impressed and loved the story. That was it for me, my moment. Now when I write I think back to those great times and to that story. Hopefully, I’ll write something that you, the reader, will be moved to comment on. For me, there is no greater elixir

3 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade”

  1. I know what you mean. It is a great idea for any aspiring or current writer to work on grammar. I read through a style guide on a daily basis. I actually have a set time that I sit down and thumb through it each day.
    Good luck.


      1. Not ‘Elements of Style’; just a pocket style guide from a creative writing course. It is quite useful. I actually should use it to make sure that I used the above apostrophe correctly, but I’ll just shoot from the hip this once. Good luck.


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