The first thing a new book writer does within my world is lean heavily on my editing skills. But unless I have explanatory comments, this is not helpful to their progress because learning key writing techniques must come from other places too.
Some learning may come from reading great writing. Some books hit you like a brick with the emotion, while others leave you cold. What are the differences? Read on and find out.
Sometimes you’ll learn techniques from doing a writer’s centre workshop or course. But there are other ways to learn that cost very little, including audiobooks. (Learn with nil extra time!)
The fact is, an audiobook like “Writing Tools” by Roy Peter Clarke will help you consider many different techniques to enhance your writing power. It helped me, and I write non-fiction. Then it’s up to you to try some of these writing tips out on the page.
Discover different techniques used in storytelling and speech-making, even if you’re writing self-help, memoir or other non-fiction. The ability to tell a story that puts the reader back in that time and space, feeling those feelings and seeing those sights, will take your book to the next level.
There are many books on storytelling, which you can use for either non-fiction or fiction book writing. If you’re a novice who is grappling with rules, then the book “Story Trumps Structure” might be just what you need.
It’s also about have empathy with your reader, as in, not talking down to them but being one of them. You can do this by remembering how it was before you found something out, before you overcame your loss, or before you met your lover and during those heady first days (for fiction books). Be vulnerable to your readers.
The Writing Technique of Showing, Not Telling
So, introspection is necessary and then relaying these feelings in creative ways. For example, I could say “I’m feeling tired and limp”. Or, I could say, “My legs drag heavily along the floor, my head is kept up by sheer will, my eyes long to close”.
You may notice that you’re able to feel more of the tiredness in the second passage. This is called ‘showing’ the reader, not telling.
You can learn a lot more tips through fun reading of these books:
On Writing, by Stephen King – a personal favourite
JK Rowling’s biography – recommended by Arpan of Quora Writers Nook
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott – recommended by Ida Adams of Quora Writers Nook
A Quick Way to Learn Grammar
You can always learn from writers who have much experience; they often write blogs, write on Quora or Medium, and freely give their advice and grammar tips away. “Grammar Girl” at Quick and Dirty Tips Network used to be my favourite site for this, but it became more commercialised, although still with solid writing tips and quirky explanations of English that you won’t find elsewhere.
A podcast for word nerds is “A Way With Words”. It’s a radio show, where Americans call in and ask their English language question.
Learning Website Writing Techniques
Copyblogger is an essential website if your writing is on the web, i.e. blogging or copywriting. I used it back in 2009 and now it’s a force of nature and a leader in writing tips and courses, and these tips transfer to any form of writing. You can also listen to their show on Spotify or iTunes.
Consider doing the Strategy of Content Marketing course on Coursera — it’s free.
So, no excuses to not learn something this week about different writing practices and reader engagement! Keep safe, writers and all.