Pyramiding is a warm-up writing technique used at the initial stages of writing. It can be used to start writing on a totally new topic or to find new sides of a very well-known topic. In both cases, it will make your text richer in ideas, points of view, and details.
To describe a pyramid, we need to look at each of its sides, that is, to change a point of view four times. In pyramiding, we take and reflect on at least four different points of view on the topic in the text to develop it deeper and find the main focus.
To try this technique, take a small object which has at least four sides. Put it in front of you and write for two minutes about what you see. Then turn it to see another side and write for another two minutes about what you’re seeing now. Continue until all four sides are described. Your goal is to express as many ideas, thoughts, or feelings as possible. Keep track of time and don’t stop even if it seems to you that there is nothing more to write about.
Now instead of a physical object, you can choose a topic, concept, or idea. Dedicate three to five minutes to each of the four points of view on this topic.
You can use the following prompting questions:
- Description. What is it? What properties does it have? How do you feel about this topic?
- Comparison. What else can this topic be compared to? To what other topics is it similar, and how is it different from them? What symbols, analogies, or associations come to your mind?
- Analysis. What parts does this topic consist of? In what context does it appear? To what other topics is it connected? What are the pros and cons?
- Use. To whom and for what purpose could this topic be useful? How could it be useful to you personally?
As a result of such a work, you can clarify your own position, discover new points of view, and try new directions of development. This technique helps to test how much a topic is rich in content, determine its most interesting sides, and choose a focus point. It can be used not only for writing, but also as a creative way to get acquainted with a new topic or generate ideas about it.
If you’re interested in becoming part of a writing group, let me know in the comments! I’ll announce the details very soon — stay tuned!
Pyramiding is my modification of Cubing, a technique by Peter Elbow. I reduced the number of sides from six to four, converted a cube to a pyramid, and added a grid of four groups of prompting questions.