Writing Thoughts

Writing Tips from Reading Prep School Confidential

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor is filled with clean paragraphs, slow reveals, and new ways to look at scenes. As I was reading this book, I collected some techniques that were executed perfectly in the book.

Writing tips

  • Keep writing down to essentials, skip ahead instead of walk sequences (especially important in first person POV).
  • Connect more sentences together with who, that, and which.
  • Decide which facts to be revealed later, hinted at, or handed straight to reader.
  • Give characters more interesting nervous habits, such as Anne’s habit of putting chap-stick on when she’s nervous.
  • Tell what people are wearing through movement, such as saying “Anne folded her arms across her leather jacket” or “Terry scuffed his steel-toed boot against the carpet.”
  • Cut down setting descriptions to a few “telling details.”
  • Give more details in retrospect as characters think back to events, such as “I only knew the train station was called the El because of an embarrassing conversation where I thought they were talking about Elle magazine.”
  • Summarize unessential speeches by teachers or other characters that do not need to be given word for word.
  • Use motion with dialogue instead of “he said, she said, he shouted, she cried, etc.” Example: “Hi, George.” Nina gave an awkward wave as she stumbled onto the dance floor.
  • Reveal character details little by little instead of all at once, either by them telling/displaying the details or by the main character learning/noticing more about them as they get to know each other.
  • Use other senses than sight to describe places, such as the smells, noises, feelings, and other things it reminds the character of.

**Note: Not all quotes are from the book. Some I wrote as examples.

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