Effectively Conveying Writing Techniques

During the ten years between the time that I decided to write a novel and the day I actually, you know, started writing the darn thing, I read a lot of books on writing. I thought I got a lot out of those books. Funny thing is, though, that, when I went to my first writing group, the people there tore up my work.

It seemed like those books didn’t help me at all.

In retrospect, they did. When the group pointed out my deficiencies, I had the background knowledge needed to understand the “what” and “why” of my mistakes. What the books didn’t do was to prevent me from making those errors in the first place.

Most of them tended to be of a format similar to:

1. Explain the “what” of a writing technique
2. Present examples from novels showing authors successfully using the technique

It seems like that is a good and logical methodology for teaching, but it just didn’t get through to me. I’ve given it a lot of thought and have decided to write my own book on writing.

Tenative Title — 12 Simple Techniques to Improve Your Fiction Writing: Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes of New Authors

To write a book about writing, you need authority. I have yet to (self) publish my first book yet, so what makes me think I’m qualified?

E.L. James, the author of 50 Shades of Grey, which was widely panned as one of the worst books ever written, is penning a book about writing. If she can do it, why not me?

Seriously, I consider myself on the advanced side of intermediate and think I can effectively communicate good tips to the beginning and intermediate writer. My plan is to present information I wish I had had when I started my journey a decade ago and present it in the way I think it should be presented.

I’ve learned that, to effectively convey a writing technique, the following four questions need to be answered:

1. What – Describe the technique simply.
2. Why – A brief discourse on the theory behind the technique grounds the reader in the underlying principles.
3. How – The longest component is a detailed explanation and/or step-by-step procedure for implementing the technique.
4. When – No discussion of technique is complete without explaining to the reader exactly in what situations it should be applied.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’m posting a two-part series on “Every Word Counts.” The first entry will include what, why, and when to be followed by how in the second. I’d love some feedback as to the effectiveness of the presentation.

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3 thoughts on “Effectively Conveying Writing Techniques

  1. I have started to just throw away those books. They are helpful to a point, but nothing beats peer review. Like you said, they just let you know why it didn’t work when peers tell you it doesn’t work. I look forward to reading your book, hopefully it’ll give something that the other books don’t!

  2. I’m interested to see your two-part series. The hardest part in your book will probably be showing the “How,” I think! You know, I’ve thought about writing a book on writing as well. If James is doing it, well then… 🙂

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