One week of learning to write well. Our trainers focussed on what is in German called the »Reportage«. The following is a list of tricks they suggested. Some, I just wrote down like this, some they said so specifically.
Detail makes a story pop
- What was the weather like?
- What did the trees look like?
- How was the smell, did the small change?
- How does it feel to be hungry? What goes through your mind? Can you give us a picture of this scenery?
- What do you do with your hands if you feel uncomfortable? Did you already do this when you were young?
- What is something you like to spend money on? What does your purse look like?
Get language to the point
- Start with the last sentence
- The last sentence of your paragraph should sum it up and be strong
- Don’t use adverbs, use strong verbs.
- Be cautious with quotations. They take the reader out of the action
- Describe not as a Steckbrief but with movement:
- »Masha moved towards the windows where a buffet offered solace.«
- »He combed his shoulderlong hair with his fingers.«
- Use short words.
- Use active voice.
- Use specific words where you suspect abstract words: They don’t buy groceries. They buy apples, bread, and butter.
- Use the ladder of abstraction (zweite Ebene):
- What does it mean?
- What is this an instance of?
- Start right in the middle (of the action).
- Be cautious when describing eyes/view/Blick.
- If you’re stuck writing: Read people you like and then write.
- Try not to take notes.
- Trust your memory.
- Treat your interviee as an expert.
- Come back to a challenging situation and ask again.
- Be bold.
- Ask for detail.
- Ask for turning points, biographical meaning.