Many of us mistakenly assume that the process of writing is one hundred percent inspiration and zero percent perspiration, but that's just not the way things really are. Admittedly, there's a bit of inspiration necessary to any good story, but that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm going to highlight are five solid techniques necessary to good writing.
These five are tried-and-true and well-known among just about any writer who's gone through the process (either by trial and error, or in a classroom setting) of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, these days) with the aim of turning out -- at the end -- a product that says something in a cogent and understandable manner.
This could be a work of fiction, or a technical journal article or just about anything in between. What matters here is that anything that's worthy of being written well has within its DNA one or all of these techniques. Let's take a quick look at each one:
#1. All good works of writing contain description within them, and it's just what it means. A writer uses it to help a reader "see" what the writer himself is trying to say. When done well, the reader can hear, see, taste, smell and even feel what the writer or the writer's characters also hear, see, taste, smell and feel. When you write description, keep in mind the goal of assisting the reader in being better able to understand the people, places and things contained within the story.
#2. The process of informing, explaining and clarifying a writer's thoughts and ideas in a written piece of work is more formally known as exposition. You most commonly see expository writing in newspapers, magazines and non-fiction books, especially. Exposition is a way to offer the reader a window into your ideas and thoughts as a writer.
#3. Writers many times will use the act of narration when trying to tell a real story. Narrative writing is all around us, and we see it evident in stories that have characters, a setting in which the characters interact, a time frame, a problem and also the various attempts at solving that problem. Novels and bedtime stories quite often use narration as their storytelling device, as do movie scripts and stage plays.
#4. Whenever a writer is engaged in trying to change others' points of view on a subject, he or she is engaging in persuasion to do so. Usually, a writer will bring out facts and opinion in an attempt to try to bring a reader around to a certain way of looking at things. Politicians, in their speech making, attempt to employ persuasion all the time. You can also see it used in editorials and letters to the editor of a newspaper.
#5. The last technique commonly used by writers is the process of compare and contrast when it comes to producing some piece of work. In it, writers will point out or highlight the similarities and differences between something(s) or some topic. We use comparison to show others what is alike or in common, while we contrast to show what isn't alike or not in common. An example of this would be how we traveled across the country in 1920 versus how we do so today.
When you're interested in communicating your ideas, as a writer, more clearly and cleanly, you'll almost subconsciously use one, two or even all five of the above techniques almost without knowing it, once you know how to properly use each individually. So take some time to practice or learn a bit more about each and then try them out in your own writing!
A. W. Guerra is a retired military officer, current writer and also author who presently pens articles and posts for over 15 personal websites and blogs, including WriteWell Communications. This blog, at http://writewellcommunications.com, is dedicated to teaching the mechanics and processes involved in learning to write well. He may be reached through his personal website at http://www.tonyguerraonline.com