There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to have an arsenal of writing tools that portend your rise into the bombastic world of classic authors.
Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.
Today’s study tips are based on a reading of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.
Strategies for Advancing Your Story, Adding Momentum to Your Writing
The Study Dude loves ideas for taking a piece of writing and sprinkling in suspense, rewards, answers, and movement?or should I say rewards, answers, movement, and suspense? All of these items add intrigue to a storyline (and order does matter!), turning even a dull report into a nonstop read.
Here are some of the strategies Clark (2006) divulges to rev your story engine into full gear:
– Add cliffhangers, especially at the end of a chapter, page, or section.
– Ending a piece with a question of what will happen next or what will the author/character do now is an effective means of garnering sentiments of anticipation.
– Foreshadow early on in the story, especially in a subtle manner that takes people by surprise. For instance, repeated visual of clocks could foreshadow (and serve as a motif) for the importance of time to the story’s theme.
– In essays, determine what the ending of main point will be, and sprinkle in foreshadowing elements that allude to or foretell the outcome.
– Create a question that the story or essay is created to answer. The question serves as an engine for the story that is propelled forward by the unveiling of the answer.
– Place “gold coins” (tidbits that serve to delight the reader) periodically throughout your essay or story. These gold coins act as rewards to the reader. The reward could be a telling scene, an anecdote, startling fact, or powerful quote.
Write with The Ending in Mind?and Here is How to Dress Up the Finale
The Study Dude was stumped for effective ways to end an essay or report. Merely told to answer the questions, “So what?” in the ending, I never got a really solid explanation of what that meant or the various ways it could be achieved.
So, to enlighten you on this conundrum, here is Clark’s (2006) insightful rendition on how to end your writing piece:
– It is important to make your ending so that it doesn’t conform to a stereotype.
– Clark (2006) writes his essays and stories with the ending in mind.
– Ways to end the story include reflecting the beginning, tying back into something peculiar previously discussed in the story, using the end as a final tick in a time clock that paces the story, highlighting settings in the ending, dishing out a big reward or secret exposed in the end, providing closing on how character’s life changes after the climax, expressing the solution to the proposed problem, summarizing story or exposition, and suggesting next steps.
– Try omitting the last paragraph to see if how it ends with the content prior to it is effective on its own. This will help you gauge if your ending is going on too long.
Use Parallelism and Repetition to Your Advantage
Parallelism, and most importantly, repetition are some of the key ingredients to those timeless, revered speeches that go down forever into the annals of history. Look at any of the most life-changing speeches of all time, and you will see how parallelism and repetition can turn something topical into something unforgettable.
The Study Dude thinks there is a similar speech waiting to be realized within you. Here are Clark’s (2006) tips for making parallelism and repetition serve your craft:
– Try to balance individual words with individual words, phrases with phrases, and sentences with sentences in doing things like making lists or using multiple examples of words, etc., to describe something.
– Use parallel structures liberally in your writing.
– One neat example is to use is if statements end repetitively, ending each statement with the same words.
– Parallelism of three items with a twist at the end is an effective way to make memorable writing. For example, “boom, boom, boom” becomes “boom, boom, bang,” ripe with a twist at the end that adds flavour and life to an otherwise humdrum expression.
– Repetition also adds spice. Choose thematic words or phrases to repeat.
– Three repetitions give a sense of wholeness, while two repetitions give a sense of comparison.
– If you think you might be repeating too frequently, omit some of the repetition and read the writing out loud to get a sense of whether it has improved in sound.
– Replace redundant quotes and phrases with repetition for more oomph.
– Repeating works because it helps us to “remember, to build and argument, to underscore emotion” (Clark, 2006, p. 163).
Skinny Down To Bare Essentials
When The Study Dude took a class on writing, the instructor crossed off over 75% of the writer’s work, pared it down to bare bones, and told us that this was the meaning of conciseness. Much to my shock, the story read much better with the superfluous words chopped from the page.
Clark (2006) gets into even more detail on how to remove nonessential text:
– Remove sections that don’t advance or address the main idea.
– Cut the weakest quotes and anecdotes.
– Pretend a tough teacher or a ruthless copy editor is about to tackle your project. What would you cut out to satisfy them?
– Cut excess phrases, words, and even syllables.
– Cut adverbs that intensify rather than modify.
– Cut prepositional phrases that just repeat what has been stated.
– Cut phrases that begin with verbs such as “should have to.”
– Slice off abstract nouns that substitute for verbs, such as “judgement” for “judges.”
So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.
Clark, Roy Peter. (2006). Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. New York, NY: Little, Brown, & Company.