FOR WRITERS: Assertive Writing

“I have great faith in fools—self-confidence my friends will call it.”

Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia

One of the easiest ways to make your manuscript stronger is to practice assertive writing. Practicing Word economy can improve your writing, make your editors happy, and create narrative drive.

What do I mean when I say to practice assertive writing? Turn on your television. Watch your favorite show. Maybe it’s Seinfeld. The episode is “The Contest” and Kramer charges into Jerry’s apartment, slaps $100 on the counter, and declares “I’m out.”

It’s effective because the beats happen quickly. Kramer doesn’t come in and say “I watched Cinemax and now I’m a contest loser.” Thanks to proper scene-setting and plotting, the viewer knows with two simple words what’s up without the need for expanded exposition. The word economy and quick nature via the assertive writing in that scene allows for a humorous moment and grants the script the time to add even more jokes.

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