5 Skills Every Author Must Have

Every amateur writer wants to become a best-selling author. 

They may read all the how-to books on where to publish, and what agent is recommended by top authors.

However, they fail to study some very important skills that need to be mastered before they can live that dream. 

If you can put words on paper, you can be a writer. 

If you want to be an author, however, you need to seriously study these skills.

Vocabulary Skills

You can not be an author without an extensive vocabulary.  Everything you do focuses on words.

It would quickly become boring, if you use the same words to convey everything you write.

As an author, you use words to show moods, settings, thoughts, facial expressions, emotions, actions, conflicts, and the list could go on.

To accurately make your words support all they need to, you should spend some time improving the vocabulary skill.

One of the best ways to do this is to read often.  You should read unique things to gain different words every day.

Any new word you see, you should use in your speech so that it becomes comfortable.

If you see words that you do not understand, you should take the time to look them up and understand them.

Make the learning fun.  Challenge your friends to Scrabble and try to use words you never used before to get the triple word scores.

Grammar Skills

An author must have the ability to proofread and edit their work if they hope to be published.

This can only be accomplished if they have a good grasp on grammar skills.

If you cannot write clearly, others cannot read it, or, in some cases, will not read it.

There are a multitude of writing programs that can help you with this such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, or Grammar Check.

Some word processing programs include spell check as part of the application such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

You should have a more than a basic knowledge of spelling because some programs will not detect the wrong word usage if the word is spelled correctly but has the wrong meaning.

Never rely completely on a spell checker.  Always double check your words to make sure you have the correct usage.

Observation Skills

Observation is an important part of an author’s toolkit.

To best describe a person or scene, the author must be able to see all the details and nuances that make up the event they are trying to depict.

Observation skills are needed to make your writing realistic.

You should strive to be a multi-sensory observer.

Add sound and smell to your observations to play a part in your description and make it even more vivid for your readers.

Try to look at everything around you as a learning experience to increase your observation skills.

While you are observing, attempt to put into words what you see, feel, smell, and hear.  This will help you show realism to your readers.

If you keep a journal of these observations, they can be used to help you write out a similar scene for your published works.

Critical Thinking Skills

This skill is often overlooked by many new authors.

An author must be able to reason and problem-solve in all their writing.

You should be able to evaluate what you are observing and come to a logical conclusion.

Every story must have a logical path from the beginning to the end. 

Without good critical thinking and problem-solving skills, it would be easy to get lost in the plot and be unable to come to a conclusion that doesn’t leave your reader scratching their head trying to figure out what happened.

One way to improve this skill is to question everything.  “Why?” and “How?” should become questions you ask yourself about any encounters you have.

Journalists are taught that their most important articles must include who, what, why, when, and how.  Every other author should take this to heart as well.

Ask yourself these questions frequently so that the answers come faster for each encounter in which you engage.

Research Skills

As a new author, you already know that you don’t know everything.

Research skills are needed in order to learn and grow as an author.

Research is a skill needed to become a best-selling author

There are many ways that research can help you become a better author.

Whether it is for your actual written work, or for information on where to find an agent, you will spend some time researching.

Almost anything you want to find, you can find in one form or another on the internet.  The trick is in knowing where to look.

While you can find a lot of information using Wikipedia or Google, there are times when the information you seek isn’t accurate on these mediums.

What if you were looking for information about a research study that was done recently?

Have you ever heard of Google Scholar?  This search engine is primarily for scholarly research, and it searches academic papers and publications.

The fastest way to improve this skill is to research anything you encounter in which you are not familiar.

If you are writing about dogs, then research kinds of dogs, how to breed dogs, and how to train dogs.

Let one search lead you to the next search.  This can also help you learn to home in on keywords to improve your search. 

Sometimes when you research, you won’t be able to find the answer because you wrote the wrong question. 

Learn to narrow your focus to get the most of your research time.  Practice makes perfect.

Putting It All Together

Every time you sit down to write, you should practice these skills.

Once you master these skills, your written works will become stronger and more meaningful.

Then you will have taken the steps to becoming that best-selling author.

Develop your writing skills