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How To Improve Your Writing: 5 Secrets From Hollywood - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Surprise The Reader

To do it, you must know what your audience expects from the type of writing you’re doing and then defy it.

Without the surprise, without the twist, if you don’t pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be memorable. It’s precisely the fact that things are not what they seem that makes a story interesting.

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How To Improve Your Writing: 5 Secrets From Hollywood - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

How To Improve Your Writing: 5 Secrets From Hollywood - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/07/how-to-improve-your-writing/

bakadesuyo.com

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Key Ideas

Make The Readers Feel Something

Honesty is the most important ingredient. You don’t have to be or have gone through something to write about it but you must have a heartfelt feeling about it so you can expose that emotion through your writing. 

Structure And Revise

You need to have a beginning that builds to a middle and an ending, or at least an idea of where you’re going, as it is key to explore your themes and foreshadow things properly.

Another important thing is to revise your writings. Your first draft is likely to contain multiple errors, poorly phrased sections, and inconsistencies.

Surprise The Reader

To do it, you must know what your audience expects from the type of writing you’re doing and then defy it.

Without the surprise, without the twist, if you don’t pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be memorable. It’s precisely the fact that things are not what they seem that makes a story interesting.

Write Like a Professional

Good writing comes from perfectionism; meaning it lets you identify what isn’t working and how to fix it, and the rewritings hone your technique. Perfectionism is fundamental when you may only have one chance to show your work to an agent or a publisher.

But you also need to stay optimistic, otherwise, you'll get depressed and quit.

Collaborate The Right Way

  • Listen, actually collaborate and be very specific with your input.
  • Suspend your ego. Your input is not about having your voice heard.
  • Give others the chance to contribute in the areas where they know more than you. 

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Belonging To A group

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Give Your Work A Purpose

It is less about what you do and more about how you see what you do.

Qualities a purpose needs:

  • It's a stable and far-reaching goal. You need something that motivates you and that you can organize your actions around.
  • It involves a contribution to the world. It makes a difference in the lives of people who don’t happen to be you.
Craft Your Story

You have a story you tell yourself about your life — whether you realize it or not.

A trend in the stories that people with meaningful lives tell themselves -  redemption stories: the tellers move from suffering to salvation — they experience a negative event followed by a positive event that resulted from the negative event and therefore gives their suffering some meaning.

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Focus On Keystone Habits

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. 

Exercise is a good example of this. Once you start to change your exercise habits, it sets off a chain reaction t...

Use “Minimum Viable Effort”

Focus on baby steps. The key to new good habits is to do the minimum and be consistent.

Do not be ambitious at the beginning. That leads to failure. Consistency is what you’re shooting for, so make the hurdle as low as possible.

Make A Plan

Thinking about the details makes you more likely to follow through. 

Just writing down your plan also makes a big difference in effectively committing to your goals.

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The value of solid writing skills
  • Being a good writer helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • Repeated writing mistakes affect your reputation and credibility in the future.
  • Your writing is ...
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

"Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing.

The “5 Ws + H” method

... for establishing what and how you will write:

  • Who: Who is my audience?
  • What: What do they need to know?
  • When: When does this apply, when did this happen, or when do they need to know it by?
  • Where: Where is this happening?
  • Why: Why do they need this information?
  • How: How should they use this information?

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Burnout is not the same as tired

Burnout is job-induced depression.

When you suffer from burnout, 

  • you become chronically exhausted
  • you become cynical and detached from...
3 Secrets to avoid burnout
  • Be Optimistic. Confronted by a bad situation, optimists perceive it as a challenge and try harder.
  • Find Meaning In What You Do. When you find true meaning in your work — when it’s not a job, it’s a calling — you don’t burn out.
  • Double Down On Relationships. Those who increase their social activity when things get hard handles stress the best.

The first draft

The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.

The time you put into editing, reworking and re...

Common errors

Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:

  • Overuse of jargon and business-speak, like "utilize" or "endeavor" instead of "use" or "try."
  • Clichés are stale phrases that have lost their impact and novelty through overuse. If you are used to seeing it in print, don't use it.
  • The passive voice. The subject of the sentence should be the person or thing taking action, not the thing being acted on. "Harry wrote this article," is better than "This article was written by Harry."
  • Rambling. When you are not sure what you want to say, it is easy to phrase it in three or four different ways. A single concise sentence is generally better.
Give it some space

When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.

The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.

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Narcissists

They have inflated views of themselves (they think they are better than they actually are).

They make fantastic first impressions. But the stuff that works for narcissists so well in the sho...

Don't deal with them

Narcissists lack empathy, they usually don’t work hard, and in a few weeks to a few months, they make the people around them miserable. And narcissism is very hard to change. So, if at all possible, just stay away.

Kiss Up Or Shut Up

Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein recommends you kiss up to them or at least keep your mouth shut until you can get out of there.

There’s this concept called “narcissistic injury.” Pointing out a narcissist isn’t all they think they are can be like pulling the pin on a grenade. A grenade you have to see every day of your life.

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Common errors when reading people
  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
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Trusting your instincts

Your first impressions are usually pretty accurate. But whether they are wrong or right, first impressions affect us in a big way and we are slow to change them.

You have to be willing to update them quite rapidly. 

Reading first impressions
  • Studies show that if someone seems extroverted, confident, religious or conscientious, they probably are.
  • We all pay more attention to pretty people, and so we tend to take the time to evaluate them.
  • If you want to know if someone is good at their job, watch them do it for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Funny people are smart: Effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.

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The importance of motivation
The importance of motivation

Research shows that more than 50% of American workers feel disengaged at their jobs.

Research also shows that motivation is very important to feel engaged. Motivation predic...

Focus On The Meaning

We find motivation when something is meaningful. Meaning is much bigger than the enjoyment of a moment. It can include something we don't like. Soldiers risk being killed every day to serve their country. New parents handle poop daily for years.

Meaningful things give us purpose. This means doing something that serves a larger cause than yourself or, at least, making a contribution in your own world.

Tasks that do not seem meaningful

When a task you have to do doesn't seem meaningful, reframe your experience. You may not always be able to change what you have to do but you can change how you view it. When you look at it in light of how it helps others, you'll often find motivation.

You're not "filling out boring paperwork, you're helping people get the insurance that could save their life. You're not slaving over a hot stove, you're showing your family how much you love them.

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Dealing with Anger According to Context

Sometimes suppression is the only thing you can do to avoid an escalation. And sometimes reappraisal can cause you to tolerate bad situations.

But that said, telli...

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgive. Research indicates that forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy.

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“Positive” Procrastination

At the top of your to-do list, put a couple of daunting, if not impossible, tasks that are vaguely important-sounding (but really aren’t) and seem to have deadlines (but really don’t). 

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Dashes

dash is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute.

The first thing is to take one minute and just write down the steps you need to do to finish the task - just a rough draft, at first, and that’s it. 

Now there is nothing else to think about, and there is no way to screw this task up. Everything is laid out and you can just start working on it.

Commitment Devices

First, give your friend $100. If you get the task done by 5 PM, you get your $100 back. If it doesn’t, you lose the $100.

Or make it $200 that the friend doesn’t keep — they donate it to some weird organizations, in your name.

Get the picture? That’s a commitment device.

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