I try different writing styles and genres, appeal to different audiences and produce different types of print and digital outputs all with the notion I am trying something new. This makes me varied. These are the tools I learned down the road.
Brainstorming- Looking back to the writings of my childhood, I frequently used webs to organize my ideas. This was ingrained in me from elementary school. Now I have a bank of blog ideas I’ll get to eventually, post it notes collectively in a binder I set aside and random pieces of paper also collectively in a binder. The idea is the same, embrace the planning period and save every idea, good or bad because you don’t know if it may become useful later.
Show, Don’t tell – A rule of thumb also learned young, however, I still struggle with this at times. Showing the reader with descriptive language does a hell of a lot more than just blatantly telling a scene. Imagine Howl or A Tale of Two Cities without all that fluffy stuff. Oh and thanks Mr. Fritz, my eighth grade English teacher (way back in the 90s) for teaching me show, don’t tell for my fiction stories.
Rhythm – Just read it out loud. How does it sound to you? Each word should fit exactly in each sentence, each sentence in each paragraph and so on. As a reader, I do not want to get stuck by a word or some obstruction of sentence structure. I want to read with ease; I try to remember this when writing.
Passive vs. Active voice. This is a tricky lesson learned and not something I really wanted to include in this list. But good writing is about clarity and passive voice should be mentioned as it confuses the reader. Passive voice often excludes the subject or mis-positions it with a noun in a sentence, where active voice is direct and follows the traditional model subject-verb-predicate. See the example below from wikipedia:
Active voice: Our troops defeated the enemy.
Our troops – subject
Defeated – verb
The enemy – ending predicate
Passive voice: The enemy was defeated by our troops.
Do you have a hard time identifying the subject in passive voice?
Peer review – The reviewal process for a marcom press release, technical training manual, or screenplay gives every writer a sense of perspective. Take a step back and use this time to reflect. Concentrate on what went right, what went wrong and focus on change for the next draft.
More tools for the everday scribe to come…