Using Writing as Your Medium
This article will show you 7 writing techniques to make you stand out. Most people who want to be known for their writing will probably agree that being memorable has a lot to do with the uniqueness of their writing style. That being said, it is not easy to mold and craft a style that is both effective and exudes individuality. There are the effectiveness challenges of making communication coherent, and having a consistent flow. Then there is the challenge of uniqueness which includes making old things sound new and new things seem like an undiscovered wonder.
Our era of ubiquitous technology charges a stark contrast with the olden days. The general tradeoffs are caused by the differences in the accessibility of information. Back then, people had to read at the library or read the newspaper; this meant it was more of an event and took more time to find different information. The good thing about back then was that there was probably a greater ratio of good examples to bad examples, probably due to a less open writing platform.
Our current era allows people to teach themselves more easily and find plenty of exact information on any subject with just a click of a button. Plus, with the ability to easily communicate with people across the planet, makes it much easier for lesser-known writers to get larger amounts of feedback if they know how to utilize the digital platforms correctly. The bad news about this era is that there are probably far more poorly written or unengaging articles and manuscripts. This can, and unfortunately does, lead to developing a highly generic style.
So, how should someone go about turning themselves into someone who can utilize the best of both worlds? Of course, reading helps by learning what works well and what fares less. However, reading alone isn’t enough. You are going to need to learn techniques to draw out your own uniqueness. Individuality, by definition, cannot be taught, it can only be encouraged. The following techniques should allow you to more easily perform introspection and provide ideas for practice extracting your potential uniqueness.
7 Writing Techniques to Make You Stand Out
Recognize the Difference Between Perceptions:
It is easy to experience the way you do because it’s you. On the other hand, it is not necessarily easy to understand why other people interpret things the way they do. If you can see the similarities between your perception and other people, then you should be able to figure out where you branch off exactly more easily. That is a simple glimmer of your individuality. An exercise you can do with friends to lightly test this is to have both of you stare silently at an abstract work of art. Then share with each the interpretations you both had (i.e. I saw faces vs. I saw a Butterfly). This can translate to differing shapes or different invoked emotions.
Another way to coax your uniqueness to show itself is to project emotional states or attitudes onto objects or processes that aren’t life forms. For example, if you see a flame of a fire continuously lick a log that hasn’t caught fire yet, then you might envision the flame as bloodthirsty, and it will not stop until it has enveloped all of the hopeless logs with its wrath. On the contrary, you might see it as a flame yearning for a connection; to become one with all the logs. It might seem silly to some, but this technique can actually help you generate ideas below the surface.
Simulations and Pertinence:
One of the distinct differences we have from other animals is the extent in which our imagination can flourish. When we think in terms of safety, our imaginations help us stop ourselves from taking unnecessary risks. That is just the beginning, however. Our imaginations are powerful enough to predict certain reactions and responses from other people sometimes days in advance.
We utilize that ability for things such as job interviews or asking people out. Our predictions aren’t always right, but they are good enough for us to learn. We can use our imagination even further in our writing if we are patient enough. We can go from simply deciding what one character will end up doing to creating a vivid scene. People usually favor immersive scenarios, so the easier you make it for your readers to imagine what is happening, the more captivated your audience will become.
For example, instead of just mentioning that someone got hurt and went to the hospital or back home, take more time and mention discrete details that would pertain to the situation (like this):
After failing to retrieve his dog from the ravine, LT. Jackson decided to accept his loss and move on. The onset of sheer regret and self-loathing from blaming himself for what happened was starting to consume his focus and thoughts. This would prove unfortunate. For, as he started heading back to camp, a rogue branch fell. He managed to escape just in time! Or, at least he thought. It was a quick blur; he had heard the violent crashing it made with other branches on its way down right before seeing a glimpse of it as he looked up and tried jumping away. GAAHHH! He yelled. It was loud enough for all the bears fishing way downstream to stop and listen if for just a moment.
Lt. Jackson thought for sure the day couldn’t have gotten worse after losing his best friend Snap, but boy was he wrong. Seeing the branch on top of his now oddly angled boot, he knew his ankle was likely broken. It was already getting late, he was starting to feel the effects of dehydration, substantial fatigue, and with his now bad ankle, he was unsure of making it back to camp before morning now, when his comrades might already be gone. He knew, however, that he had to try. His training taught him that there was no room for giving up. So, he gathered the strength and composure he could muster. He breathed heavily, limping as an old man would without a cane, with an ever-increasing sense emptiness inside, but all with the one thought that he had to live to fight another day- if not for him, for Snap.
Be Careful of Tropes & Clichés:
Readers and people who consume copious amounts of media are tired of overused ideas and phrases. Since expecting every part of your work to be completely different can lead to degrees of unrelatable material, you can’t avoid using all ideas ever used. That is ok; however, it will help your readers learn to appreciate your particular styles if you keep it to a minimum. In other words, only put in used ideas when you can’t work in something new coherently with good flow.
Some Overused Tropes and Phrases:
- Classic Trinity with Good guy – Bad guy – Innocent, helpless girl
- Overly capable protagonist/antagonist
- “The pot calling the kettle black”
- The humble master who can save his pupil from impossible odds
- Giant Evil Corporation that has basically full control of the earth
- “Think outside the box
Create Philosophy from Normal Things:
The ability to use normal things as catalysts for creative expression can get your readers to think more deeply about your message. The normal thing preps them in a non-conscious way so they can be pleasantly surprised where the text goes next. The transition from the normal thing to the deeper meaning is easiest when you can view it as abstract vs. concrete.
Examples of Normal to Deeper Transitions:
- The closet was really cluttered – yet it was still more organized than her mind
- He knew the key to success was finding the right door to open
- Upon blowing out the candle, she remembered how unsupportive her guardian was towards her burning desire to become a brilliant artist
This is definitely one of the harder techniques to develop. The challenge is making the character’s choices and describing their feelings in a way that ‘makes sense,’ while not letting them succumb unnecessarily to stereotypes. A professional example for authentic voice is the very well known The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. Don’t expect to pull anything off at such a level anytime soon, however; this is something you will need to practice.
What you can do to help is practice writing a character that has a glaring difference from you, such as the opposite gender or someone from a totally different culture. The parameters for effective practice doesn’t end there though. Now, try creating that character how you think they should be, then see what you could do to change the character’s perspective, emotions, or decisions from what originally had made sense to you. Changing these aspects is also something that will benefit you more if you can get feedback from several types of people.
Follow the Rules:
While striving for proper grammar and correct spelling are no-brainers, it’s still important for you to check your technical prowess and this will increase the likelihood for effective feedback. You want to hear criticism and or praise of your ideas and ability to captivate the audience? Unfortunately, that won’t happen if your readers are struggling to understand what you are trying to even say. In short, you should both practice the execution of coherent writing, and engaging the reader with your world.
Effective Practice Makes for Real Progress:
It can’t be stressed enough that frequent sessions of writing practice are better than simply producing lots of material. Make sure you practice different exercises. Incorporate more than just poems or short stories. Try to find things that will challenge you (something you wouldn’t normally try) such as a political or quote analysis. Don’t rush yourself, be patient and take your time. This way you can more easily focus on making progress. Another great idea is to do simple exercises with short prompts such as flowers or boats. Just use something like flowers or boats as the pivot to talk about things related to them.
As you see, it can take a lot of work to develop a proficient style that carries your signature. However, with a perceptive approach and care, you can extract your uniqueness in a very positive way. Remember to have fun. If you don’t then why be a writer? Hopefully, with time and practice, you will reap the benefits of these techniques.
Thanks for reading. Express yourself in the comments, and keep writing!