Unusual writing advice from a person who shouldn’t give writing advice

writing advice

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I constantly strive to create a more compelling writing style. Not just for show.

We’re living in a web age where access to information is omnipresent and soon robots will start cranking out perfect content. Pressure deluxe.

If we humans want to compete, we must establish an entrancing voice that bonds people to our writing. Like magnets on steroids. Let me tell you how.

Over the last few years, I have amassed myriad techniques that improve my writing ability, primarily because English is my second language and I need to hustle triple hard.

And it worked. I’m rid of my horrendous writing (English teacher: “Mars, you make too many mistakes. Your sentence structure is more twisted than curled spaghetti. I hope your career will never involve writing in English.” Oops.)

And I’ve turned my mess of words into something that people enjoy reading … and even pay for.

So you might not think I am the best person to give you writing advice. But whether you’re a native speaker or not, the following tips will help you create an unusual writing style that makes your content sparkle more than a diamond in the sky. Blinky dee blink.

Let’s start with …

You x 3. 

art 2A popular post I wrote a century ago in the internet age (offline age: approx. two years) described a basic concept of amplifying your personal foibles and traits. Vamp up da volume. Crank up ze character. Times three.

Become a writing caricature for maximum attention effect.

Channel your favorite writer.

This is an effective technique I used to learn Japanese.

Pick your favorite writer, learn as much about him/her and pretend you’re him/her before you create your content.

One of my current favorite authors is Chuck Palahniuk, who achieved world stardom through his debut novel Fight Club. I read the book 5+ times and channel his voice whenever I can. The goal is not to copy … but let their style influence yours and stream through to your readers.

Create your own dictionary.

art 3My dictionary is called the Mars Dorian Primer, and it’s an alphabetical list made with Scrivener, where I collect my word creations and unique expressions. I have the tab open 24/7, and whenever I come up with a new Dorian-worthy term, I type it in for for future reference.  This allows me to create a Mars style vocabulary which I can incorporate into my writing. Half of the unusual expressions you see in this post were zipped over from my primer.

Read content that pushes your comfort zone.

You create what you consume. The more original the input, the more original the output.

Half of what I read is beyond my initial interest. I may have to push myself to maintain attention, but I want to absorb a different view. Recent examples:

  • A book on how to spot psychopaths (“The Psychopath Test”)
  • The Bible
  • A Young Adult novel about a meth addicted teenager girl and her alter ego, “the monster”
  • Lyrics from artists I never listen to like Macklemore and Lana Del Rey

Why do I force myself to do this? Am I just a masochistic reader? Nah, not really.  I’m just practical. If I only read what I liked, I’d end up with a stack of Japanese comics and self-help books. Boo-ring. Variety is the spice of style.

Make unusual connections. 

art 1“My paper was white as snow.”

Zzzzz. And your sentence is lame as lime. No cookies for you!

When you want to fire up your prose with visual devices, aim for unique metaphors and similes. Stereotypes like white as snow are out! Unless you’re Snow White. Then you get a waiver.

Feel free to use your self-made dictionary to include unique connections. Here are some of mine:

Shiny as a crystal in the sky. As clean as white magic (white magic in the RPG world represents healing and protection). Enough passion to melt the moon.

Find unique visual descriptions that A) stand out and B) still remain somewhat clear.

As evil as a fish in Vegemite is unique, but what the heck does it mean? You may not even know Vegemite.

And last but not least:

Break the language when you want people to pay 100% attention. 

I do this all the time. I call it my anti-scanner measure or auto-break.

Since a lot of people scan and eye fly over content, they miss most of what you want to say. If you want their full attention, you can break their flow but including unusual phrases, words and mistakes. I may use a germanized sentence, e.g. using ‘ze’ instead of ‘the’ or write error-filled phrases like this” “WHAT ZE HELL ARE YOU SIMPLIFYING THINGS MaRs YOU SAUERKrAUt SUCKING GERMAN?”

It’s not a gimmick when it works. And it does work, based on Twitter mentions and messages I get about my style. People stop and pay attention.


Some of the methods above may seem unsettling. But if you want results that no one’s achieving, you must do things no one else is doing.

I challenge you to re-think your writing approach if you want to craft compelling content. Never go auto-pilot. In a world of too much samey-samey, a uniquely crafted content style will stand out like a naked guy with a feather on his face.

Remember, style matters. Find that advantage. Treat your writing as a never ending artwork in progress.

Are you?

mars dorianMars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at www.marsdorian.com/

Original illustrations by the author.

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