Journaling Techniques Revealed

with 8 Comments

A few days ago I wrote a blog post called I Met A Gnome While Rock Climbing. I challenged you to spot the 8 deliberate writing techniques I used in the article.

Several of you were quick to spot my techniques. Here they are:

  • I used a first person, conversational style.
  • I broke up the words into short, readable paragraphs. (Most people will skip over densely packed writing.)
  • I used humor.
  • I included details—like the kind of shoes we were wearing—that made the story more interesting.
  • I included pictures to illustrate my story.
  • I used repetition: “I know I said I would never rock climb” was repeated for emphasis. I wanted it clear that I was really stepping out into the unknown when I went bouldering. The repetition also helped me to get back on topic after explaining the concept of bouldering.
  • I used a simile and a metaphor. A simile is where you compare one thing to another, often using the word “like.”
    “Here they all are, clinging to the wall like so many spiders.
    A metaphor is where you say a person or thing is something else:
    “You can definitely tell which one is a she-spider.” An occasional well-done simile or metaphor can really add punch to a story.
  • I combined two ideas to reach an offbeat conclusion. Example: I took my first baby step toward rock climbing + the fact that I saw a gnome = seeing a gnome was my reward for being courageous. Humorist Dave Barry is the master at this.

My Readers Weigh In

I was pleased to see that many of you picked up on other ideas that I didn’t even think of. Here they are:

  • The title draws you into the story. This is a very good point. If your title is bad, it’s unlikely anyone will even read your story!
  • I gave the Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
  • I used numbers or bullet points to break up the text, making it easier to read.
  • I invited readers to actively participate by telling them to notice certain things, as though I was speaking directly to them.
  • The story had a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Thanks to all of you who shared your sharp observations!

Now It’s Your Turn!

The next time you create a scrapbook page, try to use one or more of these techniques to jazz up your journaling!

8 Responses

  1. Woodie
    | Reply

    Thank you for writing this up for us. I’ve copied, saved and printed it for future reference. It is going to be a very useful tool for me in future layouts!

  2. Elaine Johnston
    | Reply

    I do a lot of writing in my work as a “Personal Travel Planner.”

    Just read Globejotting – How to Write Extrodinary Travel Journals by Dave Fox that may be of interest and help many of your readers. You don’t have to write travel journals – read the book and you’ll pick up tons of ideas for any type of journaling – it’s that good plus being short and sweet…a quick read!


  3. Diane
    | Reply

    I used a news-style article to “report” on my granddaughter’s broken toe accident when she was helping her grand-daddy. It turned out really well and had a humorous slant to it, in spite of the broken toe.

  4. Shirley
    | Reply

    I’m not a writer and find journelling the hardest part of scrapbooking. When it comes to the grandchildren, I write what I want to say to them.Hopefully when they are alot older,they will take it all on board.
    Thank you, Linda for all your fantastic hints. It’s a pleasure to receive them each month.

  5. Bonie
    | Reply

    I add smell (my grandmother’s cookies baking in the oven),touch/feel/texture (fabric, moss, old book, doily), temperature, to the standard who, what, where, when, why.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Great thought. Smell is a little harder to weave into journaling but definitely worth it when it works!

  6. Glorie
    | Reply

    I have been wondering what the other techniques were! I know now why I am not a writer! I love humor and do use that but, the simile, metaphors, and off beat conclusions are not part of how I journal. It was interesting to read how writers are able to draw an audience in more but, can’t say that this will come naturally to me! 😉 Thanks for the ideas…need to write these down!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      One way to look at new writing techniques is just to say, “Hmmm. That’s interesting,” and leave it at that. Then, if you come across a journaling situation where a new technique might work, you will be aware of it and might be willing to try it.

      Most of us, though, just need to be reminded to use the techniques we already know, so hopefully I’ve encouraged you to do that!

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