Writing tactics

I’m doing a lot of writing at the moment, here’s some things I remind myself – advice I’ve gathered along the way. I’m a big fan of advice, so thanks to all those who’ve offered it.

These are more tactics than principles or admonishments. I don’t always follow them, but sometimes they really help. Oh, and it’s non-fiction i’m writing in case anyone doesn’t know.

  • Andrew passed on the most important thing, as said by Kingsley Amis- The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of your trousers to the seat of your chair.
  • Dan Box said- Write in two-sentence paragraphs. Try it – you’re forced to structure your story so the direction is obvious, and structure your sentences so they are concise.
  • Tim Radford from the Guardian told me- Make the first sentence a summary of the whole article. This is for readers who don’t have any motivation except curiousity to keep reading what you’ve written . The newspaper story is top heavy, designed to be cut from the bottom- don’t have any surprises in the story outside the first paragraph, or outside the first few lines if you can help it.
  • I discovered the other day- When you’ve rewritten and rewritten until you can’t see the text anymore, put it in another application or change the font or style (or both). The superficial change to the appearence of the text really helps you read it again with something like full attention.
  • Mrs Ferris, my A-level history teacher said the first sentence of each paragraph summarises and defines what will be in that paragraph. Not only does this help orientation for people skimming what you’ve written, but it helps you structure it too. Good when writing for readers who don’t have much time (ie always).

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