Study story structure and literary devices

Study story structure and literary devices

Learning about story structure and the different models that dramatists and fiction writers rely on, like Freytag’s pyramid or the classic three-act structure, is valuable for any aspiring writer.

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How to Become a Better Writer [1/2]

1. Actually write

2. Watch out for repetition (and annihilate it)

3. Weed out clichés

4. Aim for clean, filler-free prose

5. Read... a lot! In a wide range of genre

6. Read again, with a pencil in hand

7. Choose personal over formulaic

8. Experiment to keep your style fresh

9. Sharpen your opening and ending

10. Never forget the big picture

Read again, with a pencil in hand

Look closely at how the other writer avoids repetition and regulates sentence length, and become aware of all the words that could’ve gone into the sentence, but were trimmed out.

Read: the literary equivalent of osmosis

“The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification pretty much in order.”

Study your words on multiple levels:

  • The lexical level, i.e. specific verbs, adverbs or adjectives you might be repeating (are your characters constantly grinning?);
  • The sentence structure level, like if all your examples come in threes;
  • The narrative structure level, like if you unwittingly but consistently lapse into new flashbacks.
Experiment to keep your style fresh

Experimentation seems to be working for George R.R. Martin, who has for decades been writing short stories, novellas and even reference books between instalments of his novel series A Song of Ice and Fire

Clarify and condense your meaning

As you edit your work, you’ll be thinking of what you intended to say at the time of writing.

How to Become a Better Writer [2/2]

11. Edit your writing, solo or with a professional

12. Clarify and condense your meaning

13. Consider your reader

14. Study story structure and literary devices

15. Sign up for a writing class or course

17. Make friends with other writers

18. Be persistent and consistent

19. Stay humble

20. Embrace failure and rejection

Actually write

Some serious benefits:

  • You’ll get to know your own writing habits better
  • You’ll develop writerly discipline
  • You’ll stick around long enough for new ideas to occur to you

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Becoming a better writer

You can become a better writer by simply becoming more aware of your surroundings.

Writing is mostly strategy. And a big part of writing strategy lies in listening.

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Tips to Self-Edit
  1. Read Your Work Out Loud: It helps consume your manuscript with a fresh perspective
  2. Take Action… Verbs! Are you starting every paragraph with “there is” or “they are?” It’s fine to do that once in a while, but consider switching up your verbs every so often.
  3. Watch Your Purple Prose: Don't overuse flowery sentences
  4. Stop Repeating Yourself
  5. Curb Your Time Traveling: Stick to a type of tenses
  6. Eschew Prolixity: Cut out wordy phrases until they’re no longer strangling your sentences.
What it takes to write a book

The hardest part of a writer's job is sitting down to do the work. Writing happens in three phases.

  1. Beginning: You have to decide what you're going to write and how you're going to write it.
  2. Staying motivated: You will face self-doubt and overwhelm. Planning ahead will ensure you won't quit when the obstacles come.
  3. Finishing: Nobody cares if you almost wrote a book. They want to read what you actually finished.

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