17 cool writing tricks anyone can use

5:43 PM

At the risk of word nerding out on you guys, there are some fun and cheeky ways to giddy up whoever you’re writing for; stopping them from clicking the corner X or from going the way of this poor lass:

It’s been a number of years since I’ve mentioned this so a refresher is probably in order. Snuggies are NEVER ok unless you are aged 3 or under. I especially shouldn’t have to explain why Snuggies are a really fucked accoutrement for your face. K?



Whether you’re writing a product flyer or the next Game of Thrones book, every now and then, everyone needs some inspiration to help stop their paragraphs getting god damned boring.

As I have droned on about here and here and here mixing up word play is key to making copy more enjoyable. Even for those of us who love reading – but more so for those who don’t – on a day to day basis, there are so many words we need to sift through and who could be arsed with it if it isn’t engaging? Or surprising. Or inspiring. Or instructing us how to improve our lives with genius appliances that make our very existence before it seem hollow and meaningless and dentally unhygienic (don't even get me started).

So, if you’ve a hankering to make your writing more interesting (for your audience and yourself), give these little beauties a burl:


1. Epizeuxis: Let’s kick this off nice and easily. Epizeuxis is the repetition of words or phrases in immediate succession. = Blah blah blah. Or hark back to a song by Aussie folk band of the early 90’s Things and Stone & Wood “You are my everything. You are my everything. You are my everything.” (Happy Birthday Helen)

2.  Sentential Adverbs: Words or brief phrases that emphasise the thought they lead into, interrupt, or follow. = however, of course, basically, naturally and no doubt.

Sentential adverbs are great if you're using them in a piece of personal expression (e.g blog post, opinion column, fiction). Try to avoid them in marketing collateral or white papers as they are largely unnecessary, make your message too waffly and can detract from your credibility. Also, only use 'however' to start a sentence. 

3. Sententia: The punctuation of a point with a common saying or a maxim. For example, “As we all know: a fool and his money are soon parted.”

4. Antanaclasis: The repeated use of a word in one sentence, each time to a different meaning. = Rap stars often get a bad rap, and a rap on the knuckles for everything except using this tool. (Eminem uses antanaclasis a lot).

5. Litotes: Understating a passionate opinion to stress its importance - a description by stating what it is not. = 
"Are you also aware, Mrs. Bueller, that Ferris does not have what we consider to be an exemplary attendance record?" - Ferris Bueller's Day Off

According to comedian Carl Barron, litotes are typical of the smart arse Australian style of language (see 1:33)



6. Cacophony: Deliberate use of harsh letter sounds - especially consonants that are perfect for dramatic delivery like p, b, d, g, k, ch, sh. = Double, double toil and trouble.

7. Hyperbaton: Changing around the logical order of words. Think Yoda: “Alone he walked.” “Consume it you will.” 



8. Amplification: Repeating a word or expression while adding more detail to it each time in order to emphasize. “I’m looking for love, real love, ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t live without each other love.” – Carrie Bradshaw 




9. Anaphora: Repetition of one or more words at the head of consecutive phrases, clauses, or sentences. = I came, I saw, I conquered. Go hard, go home.

10. Antistrophe: Repetition of a word or phrase at the close of successive clauses: = "But she caught me on the counter (It wasn't me). Saw me kissin' on the sofa (It wasn't me). I even had her in the shower (It wasn't me). She even caught me on camera (It wasn't me)" - It Wasn't Me, Shaggy

11. Meiosis: An intentional understatement or description to make a point or belittle. =  
"It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain." - Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger 

12. Tapinosis: A form of meiosis where something is given a name attributing less credit than is deserved. = W. C. Fields enters a palatial home, glances up at the ceiling two stories above, and says "Nice tepee.”

13. Synecdoche: Referring to the whole of a thing by the name of any one of its parts. You could call a car your ‘wheels’ or a businessman a ‘suit’ or refer to knives and swords as ‘steel’. Writers use synecdoche to give more colour and meaning to their common ideas and objects.

Note: Not to be confused with Synecdoche, New York: a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie that is best defined as a cinematic mind fuck that ruthlessly robbed me of two good hours of my life.

14. Brachyology: An abbreviated expression not following conventional gramma or expression. Leaving the ‘good’ out of ‘good morning’ or saying ‘what the?’ instead of ‘what the let’s just say hell?’

15. Paronomasia*: Using puns (the use of a word in different senses or the use of words similar in sound to achieve a specific effect, as humour or dual meaning). Puns can be homophonic (sound the same but different spellings and meanings) 




or homographic (spelled the same but different meanings) 



16. Synathroesmus: A series of adjectives, also known as accumulatio, compiled often to criticise. = "
Hey, I'm gonna give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property, before I pump your guts full of lead! 1, 2, 10!" - Home Alone

17. Metanoia: A rhetorical term for the act of self-correction – can involve amplifying or retracting, strengthening or weakening a prior statement. Traditionally, 'nay' is used to set up the shift, but 'no' is its modern equivalent. = "Idleness and lack of occupation tend - nay are dragged - towards evil. - Hippocrates

Now go forth and write great. 


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