6 Quick Tips on Technique
by Marg McAlister
You will find that these six quick tips on technique barely scratch the surface - think of them more as 'flags'
to tell you what you need to look for. Every one of them refers to a topic that will have dozens of articles
written about it, readily found on the Internet. A good number of those articles will tell you exactly how to
achieve the effect you want in your work in progress.
When you check your work against the list below, be honest about the need to brush up on any
areas of weakness. Make it a point to find at least six further articles on the subject and keep working on your
technique until you've moved up a level in your writing.
- Make that first page work!!! Hook your reader. Think like a copywriter! (What will
seize your reader's imagination and make him/her want to read further?) Never forget: many editors never read
beyond the first few pages - some don't read past the first page.
- Master the tools of the trade. Learn to write a sentence correctly. Common problems:
run-on sentences using a comma splice: sentence fragments (often beginning with a word ending in
- Learn to use punctuation and layout for effect. Curb the urge to write long
- Establish the viewpoint character early in the scene and get right inside that
character's skin for emotional punch. (Show, don't tell.)
- Blend the description of the setting with the action. Link it with viewpoint: 'see'
only what is relevant to the viewpoint character; describe it 'on the run'.
- Make sure each scene has a purpose - it must move the story forward. If it doesn't,
© Marg McAlister