These writing techniques won’t make your words come alive unless you actually apply them to your writing. That is, you need to edit your work by looking for each technique in your writing. The only way to write better is to rewrite your work.
If you’re serious about learning how to write better, read Improve Your Writing Skills: Powerful Techniques for Mastering Writing by Cathy Wilson. It’s a writing guide that offers simple practical solutions that will help improve your writing skills, teach you how to make money writing, and offer better solutions to common writing problems.
I originally shared these writing techniques in How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving, a million moons ago. Back then, I was into quick and easy tips. Today, I’m into sharing my experience of writing and life. Back then, the writing techniques were just a list of instructions, such as “use lively verbs.” Here, I share why certain writing techniques are effective – and how they make words come alive.
Writing Techniques That Make Words Come Alive
“The easiest thing for a reader to do is quit reading,” says Barney Kilgore in The Writing Technique in 12 Easy Steps – From a Writer’s Workshop. These writing techniques keep readers interested. If they’re bored or confused, they’ll walk away from your article or story.
What’s the last thing you wrote? Get it out. Look for each of these writing techniques in your actual written word. Be ruthless as you edit your writing and improve your work. Only then will you make your words come alive!
Your verbs are lively and diverse
Using active verbs makes your writing clearer and more engaging. Why? Because active verbs are concise and descriptive.
1) These writing techniques will improve your writing.
2) Your words will snap, crackle, and pop right off the page when you use these writing techniques.
Active writing is more specific and precise, which shortens the length of your writing. Shorter is better. Trust me. I’m barely five feet tall, so I should know.
Your writing is focused
I bet you didn’t think of focus as a writing technique, did you? But take a look at that last sentence about my height. How long would you keep reading if I veered off into what it’s like to be five feet tall?
If you want to make your words come alive, make sure every word adds to the sentence. Don’t veer off on bunny trails or digressions that go nowhere. Don’t jump from one thought to the next.
Your sentences vary in length and structure
This is one of my favorite writing techniques because it’s fun! Some of your sentences should be short, like when I wrote “Shorter is better.” Other sentences can be longer and more flowing, as long as they interconnect your thoughts carefully and creatively (not to mention grammatically correctly).
Why does this writing technique make words come alive? Because it keeps readers awake, alert, focused.
Your words are specific
In one of my articles for MSN Health, I used the words “apples, avocados, and almond milk” instead of “food.” Descriptive, specific words are powerful. Figure out what your point is, and make it. Life is too short to waste in generalities. This is a good tip for talking, too.
“As for that idea that ‘practice makes perfect,’ it’s a lie. There is no perfect, only better and sometimes very, very good.” – Judy Reeves.
You write naturally
When you read your words out loud, does it sound like you’re actually talking – or does it sound like you’re reading a computer manual on how to set up your table for the first time? What I love about this writing technique is that it comes easy…if you like to write. One of the ways to practice writing naturally is to write about things you’re passionate about. Don’t stop to think or ponder what the right word is; just keep your pen moving.
If your writing is stilted and devoid of personality, read 5 Tips for Finding Your Writer’s Voice. Voice makes words come alive because readers get a sense of who you are. If they feel like they know a little about you, they’ll keep reading.
You use complex or compound sentences to explore ideas
Instead of putting a period at the end of a sentence, you use a comma, semi-colon, or hyphen to take the thought further. In other words, you use the technique of compound sentences to vary your writing.
Here’s an example:
1) When I first started blogging about infertility, I didn’t care about writing techniques or strategies; I was consumed with fear about sharing the details of my life with total strangers. Why? Because I thought they’d be bored.
That sentence demonstrates the writing techniques of compound sentences, specific details, and ending with a bang…
You end with a bang
Here’s a technique that I didn’t understand at first: put the strongest word at the end of a sentence. But then I experimented with it, and it became self-explanatory.
1) He had a switchblade stashed in his suitcase.
2) Inside his suitcase he’d stashed a switchblade.
Putting your most interesting or emotionally charged words at the end of a sentence makes it more powerful to read. And if it’s powerful, your words come alive! The same goes for an idea in a paragraph: end your paragraphs with your strongest points.
For more tips on various techniques of writing, read 7 Strategies for Beginning Writers.
“Advice to young writers?” says Doris Lessing. “Always the same advice: learn to trust our own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad – including your own bad.”
Fellow scribes, what say you about these writing techniques? Comments welcome below…