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A Writer's Strategy Questionnaire

Below are some questions to help you pinpoint exactly where you are suffering most as a writer so that you can take actions to correct yourself.

I’ve called this a Writing Strategy Questionnaire:

1. What decisions do you think a teacher, examiner, editor or any type of reader usually make regarding your work in the first fifteen seconds?

2. About what percentage of the creative activity which takes place all the time in your head makes it onto paper?

3. Do your openings ‘pull in’ at first rather than ‘pushing out’? (In other words, does your writing use mysteries, unknowns, gaps, missing things, and so on, to attract attention rather than bombarding the reader with information?)

4. Does a statement of the main theme of your work typically appear near the end of the introduction or first page?

5. Do you narrow your focus more to give greater depth to fewer ideas?

6. Is there some kind of ‘tension between opposites’ in your work?

7. At the beginning, does your reader know what general position you are taking?

8. Does your work focus on the outcome?

9. Does your work have an unresolved problem at its core?

10. Have you done enough research so that the essay or story leaps off the page and demands to be written?

11. Do you take your reader beyond the obvious?

12. Have you worked out an ending?

13. Have you put the words and ideas you want your reader to remember at the beginning or the end, not in the middle?

14. Do you keep a diary?

15. Have you revised your sentences one by one to make them friendlier, clearer, more straightforward?

16. Have you added to your work, complicating it unnecessarily?

17. Have you replaced inactive verbs with active verbs?

18. Have you only included things that will advance your position?

19. Have you designed carefully-crafted characters?

20. Do your characters virtually write their own story?

21. Do you write about your characters with such a superlative accuracy that your readers turn the pages of your novel or short story to find out what happens to them?

22. Do your ideas virtually write their own essay?

23. Do you write about your ideas with siuch a superlative accuracy that your readers turn the pages of your essay to find out how you conclude your argument?

24. Are your readers able to see your universe, taste its flavours, smell the odours, hear the sounds and feel the textures? (In other words, do you use the full range of sensory input available?)

25. Do you 'hold your reader’s hand' throughout the action, making sure that they are stably orientated to what is happening?

26. Could your readers lose the sense of what’s happening?

27. Do you strive to give readers superlative rewards for reading your material?

28. Do you inadvertently throw around readers’ attention and disconnect them from what they are reading?

29. Do you shift unintentionally attention within the same paragraph or scene, rather than continuing to develop the same idea you began with?

30. Do you use topic sentences to signal your meaning to orient the reader and help him or her follow comfortably along your path of thought?

31. Do you shift things around and lose focus within your paragraphs or scenes because you don’t know how to develop your ideas stably?

32. Do you strike a balance according to what you feel your readers need?

33. Do you proofread your work dozens of times to catch all errors?

34. Do you give yourself about 24 hours between revisions?

35. Do you make the reader guess how one thing relates to another?

There are no right or wrong answers, just ways of looking at your work to see how to improve it. Have fun with it.


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