Writing Advice: Keywords


As I’m sure you know, there are several different ways that a person can learn. The main ways include visual, audio, and kinesthetic. Audio learners learn best by hearing things and sometimes by using music. Kinesthetic learners learn best through hands-on activities. Visual learners, as you might have guessed, learn best by seeing things written out. This post is for the visual learners amongst you. Of course, this post is for anyone who’s interested. Even if you generally learn best through audio or kinesthetic means, you might find this post helpful.

Think about your current writing project. What are the main topics that you address in that project? What do your character want? What are some motifs that you focus on, or want to focus on? How do you want the story to feel? Do you have any points of reference, such as books or TV shows similar to your project, that you like to keep in mind while writing? Consider all of these things and then read the following quote from Chuck Wendig’s recent post, Five Stupid Writing Tricks Starting…Now.

Ten Keywords. Think of ten keywords about the story you’re writing. Or five, I don’t care. They can be anything. Emotions. Plot points. Locations. Write them down. Scribble them on a Post-It note, or keep them open on your screen in a little window, or tattoo them on your head backwards so you can read them in the makeup mirror you keep just to your left. The goal? When you write, glance at them. Peer at these from time to time. They’re meant to form the posts of an invisible fence to keep you and the story hemmed in.”

This is a fantastic piece of advice, and I think it would be really helpful to anyone who benefits from having visual cues in their learning. If you come up with these important keywords for the project that you’re working on and keep them nearby, I think it’ll keep you more present and aware of what you’re writing. These keywords might come from that magical time when you were first getting the idea for your story. In those early days, you know exactly how you want the project to feel as you’re writing, and how you want it to make readers feel later on. Recording those keywords can keep you grounded in the roots of your project and remind you what you want to include.

When you’re five, ten, or even twenty chapters into your story, you may begin to forget what your original burst of creativity and inspiration included. Keeping these keywords on a post-it note at your desk or in those little digital post-it notes on your computer’s desktop will remind you where you’re going and how you might get there. You could glance at these keywords when you first sit down to work on the project again, or when you’re feeling blocked and don’t know where to go next.

If you think this keyword method might help you, give it a try! And happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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