1 Word-Level

Specificity vs vagueness

The animal moved through the place with the thing.
The greying Dobermann ran through the moonlit street with the stolen Prada bag.

Picking the telling detail

Imagine you’re walking into a kitchen. How do you convey the specific kitchen you’re viewing? How is this kitchen different from other kitchens? For example, every kitchen has a fridge… but this one has a bright pink fridge with white polka dots. Every counter has a sink with a faucet but this one has a long garden hose coming down from the ceiling instead.

Vague Generic Specific
food sandwich BLT sandwich with mustard
move walk meander
weapon gun grand-dads sawed-off shotgun

Pick the right word

She walked on her toes to the door.
She tiptoed to the door.

Add sensory words that can be experienced

Senses: see, hear, smell, taste, touch

The blanket lay across my torso.
The heavy blanket itched my torso.

Concrete words can be pictured

Try to imagine: freedom, cold, pets
Try to imagine, running away, goose-bumps on the skin and an orange cat.

More on sensory writing here

Some words suggest a sense through their sound.

Slithering snake.

2 Sentence-level

Word economy (Brevity) vs Verbosity

Make every word count. Excessive lines can come from a number of sources, such as unnecessary verbs, redundancy, over-explaining, clichés, jargon and so on.

There is a way to get these things done and this isn’t it.
You’re doing it wrong.

Avoid redundancy

The tall apartment building housed so many little kittens that it became a serious crisis.

Write colloquially whenever possible

Avoid jargon and fancy words when an easily understood one works just as well.


Follow Right-Branching

Subject and verb at the beginning of the sentence (to the left), followed by subordinate elements (to the right).

Example: The journalist writes a book on a Sunday.

Formulate positive sentences.

Example: The dog didn’t bark.

The dog remained silent.

Place dramatic words at the end of the sentence

I turned on the light when I walked into the room.
I walked into the room and turned on the light.

3 Paragraph-Level

Vary your sentence lengths

This is a choppy line. Four words put together. It does not vary. It gets boring quick. There is no music.
So vary your sentence. Make some of them long and others short. Make music with your words and lines.