Essential Techniques to be a Professional Writer
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Essential Techniques to be a Professional Writer

Master the skills, methods and practices to write for a living in a business or professional setting.
0.0 (0 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
6 students enrolled
Created by Bob Flisser
Last updated 5/2016
Current price: $10 Original price: $50 Discount: 80% off
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  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 9 Articles
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Write clearly and understandably
  • Grab a reader's attention
  • Answer the 9 important questions of writing
  • Compose a good business letter
  • Develop a personal writing style
  • Create good paragraph structure
  • Deliver criticism that isn't taken the wrong way
  • Write concise and efficient prose
  • Identify and remove redundancies
  • Identify and remove clichés
  • Set a positive writing tone
  • Remove excess wordiness
  • Eliminate confusion
  • Use punctuation correctly
  • Take advantage of bad news
  • Adopt techniques for technical writing
  • Use handy software tools
View Curriculum
  • All you need is your computer or mobile device to watch the lessons. You might want to take notes.

Do you want the skills to make your living as a professional writer? Or do you need to improve your writing skills for the job you already have? Maybe you want to know how to write a book, write articles and blog posts, want writing tips, or you do computer training or web design. Whether you do online writing, proposal writing, grant writing, create marketing ideas or just general business correspondence, your writing skills are important and there are many techniques you should know.

This course takes you through the processes, grammar, business sense, compositions, stylistic choices and software skills you need to be successful. We focus on business writing, and this course has special instruction for technical writing, but if you want to do creative writing — like write a short story or write a book — much of what's in here will apply to you, too. You will get straightforward explanations and exercises for rewriting bad prose into good.

Contents and Overview

This course has over 80 lectures and 1.5 hours of content. It's designed for you, regardless of your experience level, to develop skills in these areas:

  • Planning a project
  • Using grammar correctly
  • Developing a writing style
  • Creating rhythm
  • Balancing short and long sentence length and paragraph length
  • Speaking with the appropriate tone for the situation
  • Being conversational without being colloquial
  • Expressing criticism the right way
  • Eliminating clichés, unnecessary words and redundancies
  • Balancing new words and obsolete ones
  • Recognizing differences between commonly confused words
  • Developing techniques for technical writing
  • Learning useful tools of the writing trade
Who is the target audience?
  • Take this course if you want to write in a business or professional setting or want to write any non-fiction. Especially take this course if people find it hard to understand what you write or if you find it difficult to express your ideas clearly.
Compare to Other Writing Courses
Curriculum For This Course
92 Lectures
The Basics
8 Lectures 12:47

This course takes you through the skills you need to write professionally. Whether you want to make your living as a full-time writer or if you want to be a better writer as part of your job, this course will teach you the necessary skills. By the time you finish, you will know how to develop a style, use basic grammar properly, understand which words to use and not use in various situations, how to write a business letter that people will read, how to criticize someone without being mean or getting personal, how to write conversationally, how to use techniques and tools for technical writing, and more.

Don't worry that this is a boring English class! We spend just a short amount of time on grammar to make sure you know it, then get to the business of refining your techniques.

Preview 02:02

Essential steps you should take before beginning a project

Getting Started

Ask yourself what you should say and how you should say it.

Nine Questions to Ask

Quick review of what a sentence must be.

Basic Parts of English

You can break the rules if you know what they are.

Breaking the Rules

How do you best improve the specific type of writing you want to do?

The Most Effective Way to Improve

Together, we'll take a typical business letter and re-write and improve it.

Preview 03:26

Test what you learned in section 1.

Practice Exercises for Section 1
Developing Your Writing Style
11 Lectures 14:56

What are the components of style to consider?


What does it mean to use the active voice?

Be Active, not Passive

Why should you almost always write in the active voice?

Why Use the Active Voice?

We take sentences written in the passive voice and together, we rewrite them so they sound better in the active tense.

Exercise: Rewrite Passive Voice to Active Voice

What do run-on and choppy sentences look like? Here's how to improve them.

Avoiding Run-On and Choppy Sentences

Writing that has rhythm can hold your reader's attention. Let's see a couple of examples.

The Best Writing Has Rhythm

Paragraph structure is important. You should also know of instances when you might need to break the rule.

What Paragraph Structure Should Be

What is parallel wording and why is it important?

Make Your Wording Parallel

Here are examples of sweeping generalities and what better alternatives are.

Be Careful with Sweeping Generalities

What is a split infinitive? Together, we'll re-write a handful of examples.

Watch for Split Infinitives

Test what you learned in section 2.

Practice Exercises for Section 2
Set a Positive Tone
9 Lectures 08:32

What is tone made of and how do you know what tone to use?

Introduction to Tone

Don't curb your enthusiasm; let it show. Be careful of exceptions.

Be Enthusiastic!

Re-write negative sentences so they are positive and keep the same meaning.

Set a Positive Tone

It is incumbent upon us to eschew archaisms.  <--Example of how NOT to write.

Use Modern-Day English

You can write simply even about complex topics.

Write Simply

Here are example sentences that we'll rewrite together to make them more conversational.

Be Conversational

This isn't an easy thing to do. We talk about dos and don'ts.

Mini Case Study Introduction: Communicating Criticism or Bad News

Together, we'll rewrite a letter that communicates criticism.

Mini Case Study Practice: Rewriting a Letter Conveying Criticism

Test what you learned in section 3.

Practice Exercises for Section 3
Be Concise
12 Lectures 17:53

Being concise isn't easy. Here's a brief introduction.

Introduction: Being Concise

Examples of words and phrases we can do without. We'll rewrite a handful of sentences.

Eliminate Unnecessary Words

Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department. Welcome.  <--How not to subject your readers to this.

Eliminate Redundancy

We'll rewrite two dozen common, redundant phrases.

Fixing Common Redundancies

How to recognize pompous writing and what to do about it.

Don't Be Pompous

We'll see a dozen common pompous words and choose better substitutions.

Fixing Pompous Writing

Conversational writing should still be a little more formal than written speech.

Avoid Slang (Usually)

When you hear a new word that people use in common conversation, should you use it in your writing?

Considering New Words and Expressions

What are some common clichés and why and how should you avoid them?

Preview 00:25

We'll rewrite about two dozen common clichés.

Exercise: Rewriting Clichés

Exercise: together, we will rewrite some sentences to remove clichés.

Exercise: Rewriting Wordy Sentences

Test what you learned in section 4.

Practice Exercises for Section 4
Eliminating Confusion
23 Lectures 17:49

Brief introduction to how not to be confused.

Introduction: Eliminating Confusion

What's the difference between "well" and "good"?

Well vs. Good

When do you use "I" and when do you use "Me"?

I vs. Me

When do you lie down and when do you lay down?

Lay vs. Lie

When do you use "who" and when do you use "whom"? Many people find this confusing!

Who vs. Whom

What's the difference between "regardless"  and "irregardless"?

Regardless vs Irregardless

The difference between "less" and "fewer" causes some of the greatest confusion, but it shouldn't.

Less vs. Fewer

"Its" and "It's" also causes a lot of confusion, but this lecture makes it clear and understandable.

Its vs. It's

"That" and "Which" aren't interchangeable. Here are some basic rules and a tip to help you out.

That vs. Which

Some people pronounce these words almost the same, which adds to the confusion.

Effect vs. Affect

This is another pair of words that many people pronounce similarly.

Except vs. Accept

You can learn the difference between these words from the movies.

Altogether vs. All Together

Let's keep this lesson just between us.

Among vs. Between

The difference between these words is often a question of legality.

Uninterested vs. Disinterested

People often confuse these words in conversation, which isn't terrible. But in writing, you should be careful.

Healthy vs. Healthful

Here's another pair of words that people tend to pronounce the same, but the pronunciations should be slightly different.

Elicit vs. Illicit

Is this lecture implying something? Or maybe it's inferring something?

Imply vs. Infer

The word "proscribe" isn't common in conversation, but you're more likely to find it in formal documents.

Prescribe vs. Proscribe

Of all the words in this chapter, this might be the most confusing bunch.

Compose vs. Comprise vs. Constitute

The differences with these four words should be straightforward.

Preview 00:48

If only you knew!

Where Does “Only” Go?

This is where proofreading and rewriting are important.

Keeping Track of Pronouns and Participles

Test what you learned in section 5.

Practice Exercises for Section 5
Using the Right Punctuation
5 Lectures 04:48

What do you get out of punctuation?

Introduction to Proper Punctuation

Here are examples of how a small change in punctuation can make a sentence mean something completely different.

Punctuation Can Change the Whole Meaning

Use these comma techniques so nobody can misunderstand your writing.

Where and How to Use Commas

Don't use commas everywhere. Here are instances when you shouldn't use them.

Where Not to Use Commas

Test what you learned in section 6.

Practice Exercises for Section 6
Mini Case Study: Your Competitor's Misfortune
2 Lectures 02:27

You want to take advantage of the news without gloating.

Take Advantage of the News

We'll look at example of what not to do, rewritten into what you can do.

What You Should and Shouldn't Write
Techniques for Technical Writing
9 Lectures 08:32

Examples of technical writing are documentation or videos for how to use software, operate machinery or engage in a process.

Introduction to Technical Writing

Here are examples of naming conventions. You can use this for writing software manuals and videos, writing instructions for how to use a vacuum cleaner or just about any documentation.

Name Parts Consistently

When writing instructions for using software, here is what you should know about navigating the screen and interacting with mouse, finger or stylus.

Navigation & Mouse Interaction

There are some simple rules to follow, and you can sometimes break them if you know what you're doing.

When and How to Introduce a Graphic

When you're writing instructions for Windows, here are good techniques for how to show keyboard shortcuts.

How to Show Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows

When you're writing instructions for the Mac, here are good techniques for how to show keyboard shortcuts.

How to Show Keyboard Shortcuts on the Macintosh

A navigation sequence is the step-by-step for using a mouse or other pointing device to interact with items under a tab or toolbar, or object on the screen.

Describing a Navigation Sequence

It isn't easy to write instructions telling readers what to type. Follow the techniques in this video so your writing will be clear.

Instructions that Show Keyboard Entry

Test what you learned in section 8.

Practice Exercises for Section 8
Tools of the Trade
13 Lectures 24:47

We'll introduce writing tools that are available to you. You probably have some on your computer, and some are available for free.

Introduction: Tools of the Trade

How to use the built-in thesaurus in Microsoft Word.

Word's Built-In Thesaurus

Google Docs also has a built-in thesaurus. Here's how to use it.

Google Docs' Built-in Thesaurus

How to use a free, online dictionary.

Online Dictionary

What's another word for "thesaurus"? Use the free, online thesaurus to find out!

Online Thesaurus

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Here's a free rhyming dictionary,
And it's just for you.

Rhyming Dictionary

Here are several ways of capturing the screen in Windows.

Preview 08:53

There are about a dozen built-in ways of taking screen captures on a Mac.

Screen Captures on a Macintosh

If you need to make screen captures on an iPhone, iPad, Android device or Microsoft Surface, here's how to to it.

Screen Captures with an iOS, Android or Surface

You can also do screen captures on a Chromebook or Microsoft Lumia.

Preview 01:12

This is a list of all the techniques we discussed in this section to take screen captures.

Handout: shortcuts for taking screen captures

Thank you for watching and I hope you found this course useful. If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this page or contact me at the social media links in this video.

Special thanks to Will and Wendy Richardson.

Conclusion: Thank you and Goodbye

Test what you learned in section 9.

Practice Exercises for Section 9
About the Instructor
Bob Flisser
4.6 Average rating
43 Reviews
407 Students
4 Courses
Trainer, author, web & multimedia developer

Bob Flisser has been a trainer and technical writer since the 1980s. He currently has over a dozen video courses released by several commercial publishers, and was the co-author of a series of books of tips and shortcuts for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Windows. He has also written magazine articles and training manuals, and created training centers for companies large and small.

Since 1995, Bob has been the vice president and the web and multimedia developer at Software School, Inc., a software training and graphic design company in New Jersey. He is also a board member of the Mediatech Foundation, which provides free technology access to his community.

Bob is a graduate of The George Washington University with a degree in financial economics and international business.