Some basic writing tips

Here are some basic writing tips to help you get started.

Who are you writing for?

Knowing your audience will affect both the content and writing style of your story. If you are writing for people you know (particularly those that feature in your photo) you can probably assume some shared knowledge and experiences and you can adopt a more personal writing style. If you are aiming for a wider audience you will have to create a more detailed picture of the setting and highlight the characteristics of the people or objects in your photo.

Create an outline

An outline helps you to organise your notes and ideas and think about how you are going to structure and write your story. It also gives you something to refer back to once you get started.

Write first, edit later

When you sit down to write your first draft do just that – write. Don’t waste time editing or worrying about spelling and grammar. It is much better to write something that is not perfect than to write nothing at all. There will be plenty of time for editing and polishing your work later on.

Keep it simple

Keep your writing simple and natural and only use words and expressions that are part of your normal vocabulary. Don’t feel you have to show off by using unfamiliar words or jargon. Use whatever words come into your head (no matter how simple) because they will often work the best and your personal writing voice will start to emerge.

Paint a picturePaint a picture

Anton Chekhov wrote:

“Don’ tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass”.

In your writing this means that you should think about using some words which capture the attention and imagination of your readers. For example, if you are writing about a person in a photo you could describe what they are like, how they speak, whether there is anything unusual or quirky about them. If you are describing a view, you could tell your readers what took your breath away and what emotions you experienced rather than just saying it was magnificent or breathtaking. But don’t overdo the show don’t tell approach. Write what comes easily and naturally to you and don’t feel obliged to use descriptive and figurative words simply to spice up your writing. If you prefer to tell something as it is, go for it.

Give it a week

When you have written something put it on one side for a few hours, a few days or even a week and then re-read it. When you come back to it with fresh eyes you will be able to read it more objectively and no doubt see all sorts of ways to improve it.

Keep writing

Even if you initially find writing hard don’t give up. It can be tough for new or inexperienced writers but the only way to get better is to keep at it. Writing is a craft which can be learned but it takes hard work and determination just like most things in life that are worth doing.

Assignment 9

Below is a list of things you should do to complete Lesson 9:

  • If you still haven’t got a clear idea of what you want to write about and how you want to it, revisit your notes and scribble down as many ideas as you can.
  • Think about your intended audience and make some notes on how this readership might affect how you write and what you write about..
  • Using your notes and photo(s), create an outline for your story.

Before moving on the next lesson complete assignment 9 in your Writing the Stories Behind your Photos Workbook.

When you have completed the assignment, click here to go to Lesson 10 Some alternative writing styles.

Back to Lesson 8 The five Ws of story telling