Improve Your Writing for Free with These Online Tools
Jun 18, 2012
Even the professional writers can use a little help from time to time. So whether you're a student, an author or just an individual hoping to write better, you can get some great help with free courses on the Internet. Check out any of the following resources to improve and strengthen your writing skills.
Whether you've already taken a course in screenwriting or you want to learn how to write a screenplay, this is for you. Steven Barnes is an author and professor at UCLA who has compiled all of his screenwriting knowledge into nine modules. Meant to be studied over nine weeks, you can download each one separately or all at once. Be prepared to work because this is a writing-intensive program.
SUNY Empire State College (ESC) is a university for non-traditional students. Many courses are taught one-on-one or online, and students formulate their own majors. Their online writing center is just one of the tools ESC offers their students that is also available to those who are not. Check it out for improvement exercises in research, writing, grammar and critical reading. These have been developed by ESC professors so they are meant for college-level students.
This Online Writing Lab (OWL, get it?) was created with the intention of providing help to all people wanting to better their writing skills. No matter your current skill level, you can look to OWL to sharpen your skills and fix any mistakes that you commonly make. If you have questions you can seek out one of their one-on-one consultants or e-mail the writing center.
Only someone with a name like the grammar girl can provide writing help while making it funny. Many blogs like to point out horrible grammatical errors in everyday life (as well as professionally published works), but just being funny doesn't help you. The grammar girl updates her blog to include the difference between commonly switched words, grammar errors and misinterpreted writing rules. She puts her advice in terms that you'll understand and with a humor that'll help you remember.
The words Strunk and White strike awe into writers. Mention their names and likely any professional writer will know of The Elements of Style. Now wholly available online, there's no better way to improve your writing than reading this book. Grammar is explained with examples, words that are misused are explained and commonly misspelled words are listed. Having this online is great, but consider getting a version in print because it will be one of the most dog-eared books you own.
Writers at any level should check out the Oxford Dictionaries website for grammar and writing lessons to improve your spelling, English, punctuation and everyday writing. They even have lessons on contractions and abbreviating. This site is easy to navigate and can be studied in stages.
The only thing better than grammar exercises to improve your writing is a listing of common mistakes categorized alphabetically. The Guide to Grammar and Style by Rutgers University does exactly that. Not sure if you should use 'an' before every word that begins with a vowel? That rule is in here. Want to know the difference between an active and a passive voice? Find out here! Keep this site on your bookmarks for easy reference.
If you should decide to attend a college writing course, find out how an online course can save you money.