Secrets Of Spellbinding Writing

You lovely students often ask about how to make your writing standout and be less – well, boring. We’re often not compelling enough as writers, because we worry about being correct, and/or causing offence, maybe as a legacy of our schooldays.

In this lesson, we look at techniques for overriding these concerns, with a special fun exercise for Halloween.


Why do some writers hold us in thrall, while others bore the pants of us?

To celebrate Halloween, here are 5 tips to keep your readers under your spell – whatever you’re writing.

1. Know the emotion you want to arouse

Even the driest of writing, technical guidelines perhaps, needs to consider your readers emotions – and whether you want them to feel enthusiastic, reasurred or absolutely terrified.

2. Use the simplest most direct language much of the time, but surprise us occasionally…we love it when our synapses have to make a quick leap of connection at an unexpected word or image. Mon plaisir, ici.

3. Remember even the driest journalism can include the idea that we receive the world through our senses. And vividness can come through small specific detail too…like the stars on this skull

4. Write with deep point of view – and again you can do this in fiction and non fiction. This is writing as if you’re a camera in the middle of your character’s brain, giving insights into their personality through their action… read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel to get a handle on this

5.You can kill some tags, of the ‘ she said’ and ‘he said’ variety and instead describe action in scenes to revealing of character.

6.Which means you will need to think about your character’s behaviour, body language, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression…

7.And you will need to know their psychology – what they want, dread and adore…

8. Copywriting skills help enthrall us too – good headlines, thinking about readers questions and empathic writing…but that’s a whole other video…

So for now, just write about something that terrifies you and how you react and then put it into the words of a character. Here we’re starting with the undead which you’re welcome to join in with… Happy frightening!


As your roving reporter on writing, I went somewhere virtual this month, rather than an actual physical event. Brian Andrea Berni hosted the Indie Novelist Summit, a packed few days of most well-steered interviews with resulting facebook group here.

For any writer starting out on a genre series, this was invaluable learning as it took us through creating our first novel, and then producing and marketing it. Miffed you missed this? Then here’s Brian’s useful blog.


This month’s tip for things-that-might-be-useful-but-could-also-distract-you is As well as the irresistible checker, there is lots of useful information on this site, especially for business and copy writing.

For Complete Freelance Writing students, if you’d like to post examples of your spooky writing in the course, then you’re most welcome to terrify me!