I recently read Stephen Kings book titled “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” and became interested in the creative process of writing and was inspired to improve my own writing (which is shocking, to say the least.) This led me to 1. Start this blog to publicly share more of my writing 2. Read up more on the process of writing and improving or enhancing the skill. These are some notes from various articles recently read. All from writingcooperative.com
Become a better writer by practicing active reading
Active reading – Specific focus on the author’s craft. Encourages your judgment to be precise. It helps with developing your evaluation skills and therefore comes in handy when self-editing your own work.
Note taking is a critical element to active reading.
How to read actively
Select one narrative element (e.g. Setting, Foreshadowing, Characterization, and Dialogue)
Dialogue (Speech signatures, Integration with the scene, Breath units)
- Grab a novel.
- Flip to a random page.
- Find the start of a conversation.
- Read the dialogue on this page out loud, and only read the dialogue — ignore anything outside quotation marks (bonus points for using quirky voices).
- After you’ve read a page or so, stop. If you overheard this conversation in a coffee shop, would it seem natural, and not stilted? If so, write 4–6 bullet points explaining why it worked.
Foreshadowing (Symbolism, Clues, “Chekhov Guns”)
- Grab a novel with a twist.
- Read through the first 25% of the novel (i.e. the first act).
- Write 4–6 bullet points about how the twist was set up (and made perfectly logical) by events, dialogue, symbolism, etc. in this first act.
Sensory engagement (Try use as many sensors possible in your stories)
- Grab a book and flip to a random page, preferably one with as much sensory description as possible.
- List all the types of sense’s used. For each type, write a bullet point describing how it creates atmosphere, conveys information (beyond the obvious), etc.
- Focus on innovative use of the three under-utilized senses (touch, taste, and smell).
Other topics to explore for active reading: Action descriptors, body language, suspense)
(Reference: “How to use active reading to become a better writer” by Jed Herne)
While browsing about the various writing-related topic, I came across an old post from late 2016 posing a 52-week writing challenge. I like the idea of picking one theme and contributing towards it for 52 weeks.
Here some of the suggestions:
- Write a movie review every week
- Write a book chapter every week
- Write a character sketch every week
- “week in review” in 500 words or less
Personally, I would be happy to commit to one blog article per week. The topics may vary from month to month.
(Reference: The 52-Week Writing Challenge by Stella McKenna – 29 Dec 2017)
Writing with a compelling voice
S – Say what your readers are already thinking
H – Help the reader fight their real enemy
A – Assure your reader their past does not define their future
P – Pash away fears
E – Encourage hope and dreams
(Reference: How to Develop an Irresistibly Powerful Writing Voice by Frank Mckinley)
Strategies to becoming a better writer
- Studying philosophy to revolutionize your thinking
- Exceptional writing is fundamentally grounded in exceptional thinking
- Philosophy is about cultivating critical thinking
- Need to be able to think systematically, logically and clearly
Resource – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Creating comprehensive and highly detailed outlines of your projects
- Forces you to think through the different elements of the content
- Functions as a roadmap
Create your outline to address these 7 questions:
- What am I trying to do with this content?
- What are the different questions that must be answered?
- What is my main argument?
- What are the ideas, issues or information that I must explore?
- What external sources or references should I include?
- How am I going to organize the text?
- What objections do I need to consider?
- Emulating your favorite writers
- Why are you attracted to these authors writing styles?
- What makes these authors such effective writers?
Key questions to explore to learn from these great writers:
- How does the author organize their writing?
- What kind of language does the author use?
- What kinds of stylistic choices are evident in the author’s works?
- What is the nature of the author’s sentence structure?
- Upgrading your vocabulary
- Increase the number of adjectives and adverbs
- Read more books by authors whose work challenge you
- Enhancing your practical mastery of grammar, spelling, syntax, and citation systems
Various academic citation systems (A.P.A., Chicago/Turabian, Harvard, M.L.A.)
(Reference: 5 strategies for becoming a better writer that actually work by Nico Ryan)