5 English Writing Techniques Every Writer Should Know
  • 3-minute read
  • 19th November 2022

5 English Writing Techniques Every Writer Should Know

If you’re a non-native English writer, you deserve a pat on the back – English can be challenging! If you’re in the thick of it, it might be encouraging to know that some of the most famous English writers weren’t native speakers. Some notable examples include Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Conrad, Jack Kerouac, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

So, while it’s not easy, you too can become a great English writer. And if you want to improve your English writing, you should familiarize yourself with some of the best English writing techniques. Read on to learn more.

Imagery

Imagery in writing isn’t just about visuals – it involves all five senses. By using descriptive language and figures of speech, you can transport the reader into another world that appeals to their senses of sound, sight, taste, touch, and smell. Consider this example in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher.

Here, Fitzgerald uses imagery to transport us to one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties. Not only do we picture the glow of the sunset and the sound of music and voices, but we also feel excitement and warmth. Even without a cocktail in hand, we can feel the buzz of the partygoers.

Metaphor and Simile

Metaphorical writing is an essential tool for any English writer. It’s a figure of speech that allows you to compare one thing to another. Similes compare the two things using like or as, while metaphors take it a step further by saying that one thing is another (even though it really isn’t).

Here are some examples of similes:

Her face went white as a ghost.

You can’t trust him; he’s as cunning as a fox.

My hair shines like gold after it’s blow-dried.

Here are some examples of metaphors:

The store is a madhouse today.

My sister is the black sheep of the family.

You have a heart of stone.

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is another figure of speech that’s like metaphor, but it’s used to overstate something rather than make a comparison. This technique allows you to exaggerate and make claims that aren’t meant to be taken literally.

Look at this example in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird:

A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.

The reader knows there isn’t literally nowhere to go, nothing to buy, or nothing to see, but Lee uses hyperbole to show how slow and dull life is in the town.

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Alliteration, Consonance, and Assonance

Each technique involves repeating sounds to create emphasis or rhythm. Alliteration means repeating certain consonants at the beginning of words, like in this line from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which repeats the f and l sounds:

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life

Consonance is like alliteration, but it repeats consonant sounds inside the words, like in this example from Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee, which cleverly repeats the n and l sounds in words:

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within words, like in this example from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham:

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am.

Foreshadowing

When you use foreshadowing, you give the reader hints and clues about something significant that will happen later in the writing. This can take many forms, from imagery that represents something subtle to information that later becomes crucial.

Agatha Christie uses foreshadowing in And Then There Were None when the character Fred Narracott, speaking about the bad weather, says: “Can’t land on Indian Island when there’s a southeasterly. Sometimes ‘tis cut off for a week or more.” His prediction about the bad weather foreshadows that the guests will be stuck on the Island.

Proofreading and Editing

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to try out new writing techniques. You should know, though, that even the best techniques won’t make up for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. But our expert editors can help! Try out a free sample of our service today.

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