Smiley Face Tricks for Effective Writing

  • #1: MAGIC 3

    Three parallel groups of words, usually separated by commas, that create a poetic rhythm or add support for a point, especially when the three word groups have their own modifiers.

              I ignore the alarm clock, my mom's voice rattles every bone in my prone body, I wolf down a bagel with cream cheese that expired yesterday; it dawns on me that summer vacation is history.


    Nonliteral comparisonssuch as similes, metaphors, and personificationadd spice to writing and can help paint a more vivid picture for the reader.

              My hair is like peach fuzz.


    Instead of general, vague descriptions, specific sensory details help the reader visualize the person, place, thing, or idea that you are describing.

              My boyfriend sits in the second row from the left, third seat, in front of Lily and behind Julian.  The sun shines on his hair, highlighting the browns, reds, and oranges that you wouldnt normally notice.


    Writers often repeat specially chosen words or phrases to make a point, to stress certain ideas for the reader.

              My dentist always asks the same questions: how old are we now, how are we doing in school, and how have we been treating our little friends.  Of course, by now I know that he means our teeth.


    Instead of speeding past a moment, writers often emphasize it by expanding the actions.  This is a way of stopping time for a moment to describe a moment in detail.

              I caught a fish in the bowl of my palm and it lashed about while the water drained between my fingers and then lay flat on its side, heaving like a bellows.  I petted it with a fingertip and touched it to my lips.  It didn't taste like anything. (Hartnett, Sonja. Thursdays Child, Penguin Books, Australia, 2000, p. 8)


    Who doesn't love a good laugh?  Professional writers know the value of laughter; even subtle humor can help turn a boring paper into one that can raise someones spirits.

              There I was on the first day of school, the picture-perfect girl.  My new outfit looked like something from my big sister's magazine, my hair (for once) was having a good day, and I was strutting in my new shoes.  Little did I know that I was trailing a three-yard piece of Charmin behind me.  So much for using the bathroom right before class!  (Ledbetter, p. 15)


    Sometimes a new way of describing something can make all the difference; original or hyphenated adjectives often cause the reader to sit up and take notice.

              I walked inside the kitchen and was assaulted by the too-many-cats-live-here aroma.


    Repeating a phrase or a theme from the beginning of your piece is sometimes an effective way to wrap up your writing.

              Math class, it's like a foreign language, a mystery, a puzzle.  First day, my luck, we do fractions.  Invert and multiply, I've got it memorized, but when do I do it?  The teacher talks in numbers, not words, and when she uses words, there's always a catch - something about trains or planes leaving citites at some time and how fast were they going.  She calls them story problems.  What kind of story is that?  Math class, it's like a foreign language.  (Ledbetter, p. 16)