Writing

16 Writing Techniques to Make Your Articles Shine

Kevin Kessler
May 25, 2020
15 minutes

Are you struggling to bring your writing to life?

It can be frustrating when you can’t find the right words to express yourself. It all sounds great in your head until you try to put it on paper. But did you know you can learn how to write better if you use the right techniques?

The writers in our very own content marketing agency use it on a daily basis.

Here are some of the best writing techniques you can use when you feel stuck – and how to apply them.

But before we start, let’s dig into the topic a bit.

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What are Writing Techniques?

Writing techniques refer to different styles and literary devices a writer can use to communicate a message to the reader. Creative writing techniques are particularly important to follow if you plan on having anybody enjoy your writing.

In your career, you’ll need to write various types of writing meant for different target readers. Knowing how to apply the best writing techniques can help you adjust your style to the audience you’re writing for and reach your goal.

Most of these techniques are also covered in MasterClass where you can learn from famous writers such as Neil Gaiman to name a few.

#1: Use metaphors

A metaphor is a literary device where you refer to an object by describing something else similar (especially when readers are more familiar with that something else). Using metaphors isn’t desirable when you need to write directly, but there are topics that allow more creativity.

This technique can make your article more interesting and lively. Keep in mind that the metaphor is an effective literary device that can bring your creative writing to a whole new level.

Compared to a metaphor, a simile directly compares two things and can be used much more frequently, albeit often lacking the desired narrative effect that a good metaphor can bring to a story. Metaphors also shine in a poem or a memoir, where similes might fail in that regard for being too unimaginative.

#2: Storytelling

It’s one of the most popular writing techniques in marketing. Storytelling allows you to use narration, description, and create the whole event in the mind of your reader. It’s particularly useful in persuasive writing, like when you’re telling a client’s story to gain the trust of a prospective one.

A solid narrative writing technique is critical to master if you plan on telling a story that people will actually want to listen to. It might sound odd, but the fact is that this is even more important for writing something like a short story, when you want to convey a full story in just a few pages.

Fiction writers often have a much harder time with storytelling as it’s all made up out of thin air, and not based on real life.

Having good grammar is crucial because you could be a great storyteller but your story would have less of an impact if the reader notices little errors every now and then.

#3: Use euphemisms

A milder expression used to avoid offending someone or sounding too negative is called a euphemism. If you think your article sounds too pessimistic, you can use euphemisms to make it sound more cheerful. For example, instead of saying that something is annoying, you can use “not very pleasant.”

Example screenshot of writing techniques (euphemisms).
Example of using euphemism

(Image Source)

#4: Use empathy

Using emotive language and showing empathy for your readers means you describe their feelings and showing them you understand. This technique makes your writing more relatable and establishes a good relationship between you and your audience.

Empathy is a great literary device to use in expository writing, when you want people to listen to the truth and to side with your opinion.

#5: Be specific

Instead of being vague and using general information, don’t be afraid to be more specific when writing. Don’t say you use many writing techniques to improve your writing – tell your readers what they are. It will contribute to them perceiving you as an expert.

Yeah, it all starts with an idea, but it needs to be a specific and refined idea if you want it to make sense in the grand scheme of things.

#6: Use active voice

Putting the verbs in the active voice will make your article more dynamic. When you use too many passive constructions, it can slow down your storyline and make it unclear. But when you express the verbs in the active form, you can encourage your audience to take some action.

#7: Use colloquial language

Sometimes, your topic will require a conversational tone. It’s like you’re talking to a friend. This technique is common when your readers are young. They can relate better to an article that doesn’t feature too many “big” words that they might have to look up. When it comes to things like business writing however, using colloquial language might not be the best idea.

#8: Use hyperbole

When you need to emphasize a point in your article and you don’t want to repeat yourself, you can use a hyperbole. It refers to excessive exaggeration, like in the following example: I told you a million times to stop biting your nails.

Example screenshot of writing techniques (hyperbole).
Hyperbole example.

(Image Source)

You can also use this technique for persuasion purposes. Take a look at this example from Mark Twain’s “Old Times on the Mississippi.” Using hyperbole can often be an effective tool to use in persuasive writing.

#9: Target positive emotions

Using a light tone and lots of positive words in your article can provoke positive emotions in your readers. Focus on love, empowering messages, humor, and optimism when writing.

One of the best recent examples is the story of the fireman who saved numerous animals from a fire in Australia. The photo of him giving water to a koala quickly went viral, giving people hope.

#10: Use descriptions

Describing is one of the basic writing techniques. Use adjectives and consult a thesaurus to find more picturesque synonyms for your words. It’s something like painting with words – you’re helping the reader visualize your story. That’s why we sometimes don’t like the choice of actors when watching a movie based on a book.

We’ve been imagining them differently. The paragraph in the picture illustrates the point perfectly.

#11: Create an unexpected turn

Letting your reader think that the plot will go one way and then creating an unexpected turn of events can make them sit up and listen. The best thrillers are based on this writing technique. Sudden changes in the storyline can make the reader race to the end of the text.

#12: Use assonance and alliteration

These writing techniques refer to the use of specific words where sounds and vowels repeat. It can add to a better flow of your article or make it sound more poetic, if necessary. It can also sound very catchy if you’re writing slogans, for instance.

You’ve probably heard of Jaguar’s slogan: “Don’t dream it. Drive it.”

This is an example of alliteration — one of the best literary devices out there in terms of descriptive writing that really pops off the page.

Example screenshot of writing techniques: assonance and alliteration.
Assonance and alliteration example.

#13: Avoid digressions

Among all the writing techniques, this one may be the toughest when you’re writing about a personal experience. Make sure you stick to the main storyline and skip unnecessary details and digressions. You don’t want to leave the reader confused – they may miss the point of your article.

#14: Use the PAS formula

PAS stands for “problem, agitate, solution.” This is a great template to follow if you’re not sure where to start. It’s quite good for writing “how to” articles. First, identify the issue. Then agitate to make it more painful (but not too far). Then offer a solution.

#15: Use a proven structure

A familiar structure, such as the one we all use for writing essays in school, can prevent you from losing track. Introduce the topic, analyze the existing data, raise counterarguments, and then conclude. Sticking to a structure like this will create a logical flow and make your writing look neat.

#16: Write in the first person

Writing in first person may sound more persuasive. If you’ve written an article, but it doesn’t feel trustworthy to you, it probably won’t sound convincing to your readers either. If you put the whole article into the first person, it may have the effect of a testimonial and higher validity.

Example screenshot of writing techniques: first, second and third person.
Example of how to use first, second and third person.

(Image Source)

Academic Writing Techniques

While the above techniques are great for general use articles, novels, and professional writing, there is a notable exception that requires a different set of rules.

Academic writing much prefers the use of passive voice. Sentences in a passive voice might appear dull and boring, but they are much better at conveying objectivity and distance from the subject of the academic paper at hand. 

However, some recent scientific papers have also called for the increased use of active writing to make researchers and scientists appear more involved in the process rather than merely being observers.

The use of passive voice can also apply to writing an essay. In education, knowing how to best approach a subject and write objectively about it is the key to submitting a successful academic paper, no matter your knowledge or education level.

Additionally, using hyperbole or colloquialism is highly discouraged. A scientific paper aims to convey facts, and as such, the related writing process will naturally differ from the works of a fiction writer, who has much more freedom. 

Additionally, it helps to write in the third person, as these have to be rather impersonal. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the memoir, which is the incarnation of subjectivity.

Can Online Tools Help?

If you don’t think you have a handle on the above-mentioned techniques, there are several apps available that can help you with them.

English writing technique assistants have evolved from simple grammar and spell checker software to become AI-powered and effective at helping writers achieve their potential.

Microsoft Word has a basic spell checker and punctuation module that will eliminate small errors that can ruin what is generally good writing. Google Docs have a similar feature. However, these don’t have the necessary robustness to be sufficient for fiction writing or story crafting.

Grammarly is a great online tool that has a free version to get you started on your writing journey. While the free add-on is pretty bare-bone, only focusing on basic sentence structure, misspellings, and punctuation, the Premium version includes more options. These include repetition checking, as well as the detection of generally overused words or phrases. 

Grammarly can also be set according to your writing technique and writing style, meaning that you can use it for an academic paper, essay, poem, or story.

Another great app for this purpose is Writer. However, it focuses more on professional writing, brand awareness, and a cohesive writing style among groups of writers. It also has several advanced features, such as improving a writing method by suggesting words already used or favored by your company. 

With Writer, you can craft a story related to your brand that resonates across the platforms you use and captivates your target audience with good writing, storytelling, and character.

On the other hand, the Scrivener app is all you need to craft a compelling story, outline your memoir, or decide where to go next with your narrative. It has excellent features that make a story easy to sort, separate, and overview, as well as great character sheets that can be used for reference at any time.

Find What Works for You

We hope this article helps you understand writing techniques better. It’s essential to remember that you should experiment and mix different techniques until you find what works for you and your audience. The bottom line is that it’s the reader that needs to enjoy and understand your writing.

If you experience the writer’s block, just select one of these and start writing whatever comes to your mind. It’s an excellent way to break the blockade.