50 Writing Techniques – Courtesy of Indie Writers Support (IWS)

Writing ToolsHello all! I wanted to post this quick list of 50 writing techniques I received from Indie Writers Support. Enjoy!

I. Nuts and Bolts

1. Begin sentences with subjects and verbs – Make meaning early, then let weaker elements branch to the right.

2. Order words for emphasis – Place strong words at the beginning and at the end.

3. Activate your verbs – Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players.

4. Be passive-aggressive – Use passive verbs to showcase the “victim” of action.

5. Watch those adverbs – Use them to change the meaning of the verb.

6. Take it easy on the -ings – Prefer the simple present or past.

7. Fear not the long sentence – Take the reader on a journey of language and meaning.

8. Establish a pattern, then give it a twist – Build parallel constructions, but cut across the grain.

9. Let punctuation control pace and space – Learn the rules, but realize you have more options than you think.

10. Cut big, then small – Prune the big limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.

II. Special Effects

11. Prefer the simple over the technical – Use shorter words, sentences and paragraphs at points of complexity.

12. Give key words their space – Do not repeat a distinctive word unless you intend a specific effect.

13. Play with words, even in serious stories – Choose words the average writer avoids but the average reader understands.

14. Get the name of the dog – Dig for the concrete and specific, details that appeal to the senses.

15. Pay attention to names – Interesting names attract the writer and the reader.

16. Seek original image – Reject cliche and first-level creativity.

17. Riff on the creative language of others – Make word lists, free-associate, be surprised by language.

18. Set the pace with sentence length – Vary sentences to influence the reader’s speed.

19. Vary the lengths of paragraphs – Go short or long — or make a “turn”– to match your intent.

20. Choose the number of elements with a purpose in mind – One, two, three, or four: Each sends a secret message to the reader.

21. Know when to back off and when to show off – When the topic is most serious, understate; when least serious, exaggerate.

22. Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction – Learn when to show, when to tell, and when to do both.

23. Tune your voice – Read drafts aloud.

III. Blueprints

24. Work from a plan – Index the big parts of your work.

25. Learn the difference between reports and stories – Use one to render information, the other to render experience.

26. Use dialogue as a form of action – Dialogue advances narrative; quotes delay it.

27. Reveal traits of character – Show characteristics through scenes, details, and dialogue.

28. Put odd and interesting things next to each other – Help the reader learn from contrast.

29. Foreshadow dramatic events or powerful conclusions – Plant important clues early.

30. To generate suspense, use internal cliffhangers – To propel readers, make them wait.

31. Build your work around a key question – Good stories need an engine, a question the action answers for the reader.

32. Place gold coins along the path – Reward the reader with high points, especially in the middle.

33. Repeat, repeat, repeat – Purposeful repetition links the parts.

34. Write from different cinematic angles – Turn your notebook into a “camera.”

35. Report and write for scenes – Then align them in a meaningful sequence.

36. Mix narrative modes – Combine story forms using the “broken line.”

37. In short pieces of writing, don’t waste a syllable – Shape shorter works with wit and polish.

38. Prefer archetypes to stereotypes – Use subtle symbols, not crashing cymbals.

39. Write toward an ending – Help readers close the circle of meaning.

IV. Useful Habits

40. Draft a mission statement for your work – To sharpen your learning, write about your writing.

41. Turn procrastination into rehearsal – Plan and write it first in your head.

42. Do your homework well in advance – Prepare for the expected — and unexpected.

43. Read for both form and content – Examine the machinery beneath the text.

44. Save string – For big projects, save scraps others would toss.

45. Break long projects into parts – Then assemble the pieces into something whole.

46. Take interest in all crafts that support your work – To do your best, help others do their best.

47. Recruit your own support group – Create a corps of helpers for feedback.

48. Limit self-criticism in early drafts – Turn it loose during revision.

49. Learn from your critics – Tolerate even unreasonable criticism.

50. Own the tools of your craft – Build a writing workbench to store your tools.

If you have any other writing tips or techniques you use, I’d love to hear about them! Please comment below.

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