Why writers should use the yellow test

Word count: 232 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Each week I scan the Internet to identify funny or interesting websites, blogs or articles of particular interest to writers.

If you read my writing regularly, you probably understand that I’m a huge believer in the power of story. I often argue that one of your main jobs as a writer is to THINK about the stories you can tell in your writing and then WORK diligently to ensure you include them in a memorable way, with detail and tension.

Now, a New York Times article by Lee Gutkind, a writer-in-residence at Arizona State University, argues the same point. The headline? “The Yellow Test.” That’s because Gutkin likes to assign writers the following task. Pick up a book by your favorite nonfiction writer. Then take a yellow highlighter, he directs, and mark up the scenes — that is, places where characters are doing things. Says Gutkin: “I promise: You will find you have highlighted a major portion of the text.”

If you read the article, be sure to also check out the link he provides to another NYTimes article on the effectiveness of stories. 

Thanks to my friend Paul for passing along this link.

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