Monday, August 9, 2010

5 Ways to Crisp up your Writing.

Have you ever read a story that fell limp? Have you ever watched a movie where the characters were dull? I have no doubt your answer will be a resounding, "yes!" So, how, as writers, do we escape the boring characters? How do we avoid the fizzle? In other words, how can we freshen up our writing and make it more engaging for the reader?

1. Throw everything you have into your writing. I wrote tedious essays in school. I would spew out 2000+ words of dry facts and boring details and figured that would do. Technically they were correct. They had an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. But they were horrible. I got fair grades but there was nothing extraordinary about my work. Because I lacked passion. If you are passionate about your subject or your story, then that passion will translate into your work.

2. Never accept a ‘close enough is good enough’ attitude. Sloppy work will only cause regret later on. The practice of sloppiness will also mean critics will see you as an amateur – no matter how many books you sell. Always strive to be the best you can be.

3. Learn your craft. Sure, anyone can string a few sentences together and call themselves a writer, but you need to think of yourself as a wordsmith: someone who has to learn the power of words to be able to wield that power. The more you learn how to use words, the greater the impact you’ll be able to achieve.

4. Look for the new angle on an old subject. Clichés riddle our society. It’s in our speech, our media, our music and our stories. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey before my time -- I blame television. We watch too much of it and soak ourselves in its cliché spittle. I recently listened to some political speeches for Australia’s coming elections. The party leaders drowned in Aussie clichés. It made me wonder if they thought the public wouldn’t be able to understand anything more intelligent or thought provoking. And so I say – with passion – try to rise above the masses and write something new. (lol, even I’m not immune to the occasional cliché)

5. Seek honesty in your writing. Rather than writing what you think others expect or want to read, write with honesty the truths in your heart. This takes courage and requires practice. It means steering away from plastic representations of characters. It means going that step further to find the realism in your work. It may even mean writing to a different market than the one you originally chose. Readers respond to honesty, no matter what form it takes.

How do you freshen up your writing?

29 comments:

  1. Awesome post!I love #5 the most!! that's where I am today--trying to write with passion and what I love most so it is genuine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's so great to hear, Terri. I truly believe that writing with passion and honesty makes all the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have noticed that as I tried reviewing previous posts of mine. When told with passion, there were more comments on them. Being inspired by His Word and just committing every post with Him truly brings out such passion from within. At times that I feel dry, that's when it gets tough to start writing and sometimes, end up not posting anything. Great tips!!! Blessings to you sister. Have a great rest of the week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great advice - we do have to write to our own skills and passions. I think you're right - that's the way it works best :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love "we soak ourselves in the cliche spittle of television." That's a real act of word smithing. Bravo Lynda.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rcubes, I've experienced that as well. I think it's even more evident when we write about our faith. Rather than just pushing out posts because we want to maintain a schedule (or not posting at all), we need to remind ourselves why we are writing and spark up that passion. It's infectious :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jemi, just to add to what you said: I think we can still write outside our comfort zones, but the trick to do this is to find the angle that stirs the passion in us. (Not easy)

    Melissa, you made me smile. It's not easy to break away from the clichés.

    ReplyDelete
  8. These are all fantastic tips! Cliches--shudder. And the idea of passion is so right on. What good will it do us to write what we think is selling if we don't care about it? Not caring certainly shows through in the writing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I always learn so much from your posts! had to go looking for the post-it, AGAIN!
    #3- that's why i read your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Karen, and the same goes for our characters. If we don't care about them, how can we expect our readers to care about them?

    Vic, your comment means a great deal to me. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. These are all wonderful suggestions. We could use this reminder every once and awhile.

    CD

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Clarissa. Personally, I need these as constant reminders ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Learning your craft was my favorite tip, the way you called us wordsmiths, such a powerful way to put things into perspective. I think with each novel I write I'm getting a much better understanding of myself as a writer and it feels fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jen, I don't think we ever stop learning as writers... but it's great to be able to see improvement :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Very good post. I also think you have to know your characters. You have to know what they love, hate, fear, want, mistrust and so on. Make them suffer a bit and they will grow.

    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great tips... passion is so important! And I love the term "wordsmiths" - it makes us seem more like the craftsmen and artists that we are, rather than people who just carelessly toss words on a page.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Pure awesomeness!

    I'm never been the type of person to setlle for less; never have been, never will be. So I'm willing to spend however long it takes revising my work (which makes me a bit of slow writer, but oh well).

    To freshen up my writing, I just do as you say: I stay honest, with both my creative desires, and my feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Super great post!
    #2 reared its ugly head at me last night, or was it this morning… 1am. I was going over a chapter, saw something that could be written better and skipped it with the old… it’s good enough. Too tired. I know I will fix it this afternoon. But it struck me that ‘its good enough’ even popped into my head.
    I thrive on learning new things. I love to throw something into my work that requires me to research and learn it before I write about it. And wow to new words and an exciting new way of expressing my thoughts.
    Honesty and Passion, yes!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great advice.

    Hmmm, when I get feedback from editors, I'll use it unless it contradicts what another editor said. Which happens a lot. Then I do what I think best.

    I talk with other people. I find bouncing ideas around with others can help me a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Definitely, but as to number one...Throw everything in, but don't LEAVE everything in!

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

    ReplyDelete
  21. Helen, absolutely. Knowing your characters (and keeping them consistent) is important. It also helps to make them less plastic.

    Heidi, yes, exactly! :)

    Amanda, there is nothing wrong with taking it slow. Writing is a slow business anyway. You might as well get it right.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Michelle, the trick is learning when 'good enough' truly is good enough. Our inner voices will tell us the truth...not our tiredness or frustration ;)

    Mary, feedback is important and you are right to choose for yourself which responses to listen to.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is a brilliant list! I totally agree. Especially about making it not just "good enough." The lazy side of me tries to get away with this!

    ReplyDelete
  24. That's an interesting idea that watching TV can make our writing cliche. I hadn't thought about it, but it makes total sense. Luckily, between my family, writing, blogging, and reading, I have almost no time for TV anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lydia, yarp...I have a lazy side too. Wish I didn't.

    Susan, awesome to hear!! I don't watch tv as much as I used to and I think I'm so much better for it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lynda, this is a superb list. I agree with all the points. I love #4 : Look for the new angle on an old subject. This in particular makes a book stand out and shine.

    ReplyDelete
  27. you can never create a masterpiece without passion, so your number one is really important!

    I also like advice number five. I've seen and read a lot of wanna-be-writers who impersonate writing rather than being honest and staying true to their inner talents and stories if they have them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rachna, many think all the new angles are taken, but there are so many possibilities! We just have to be creative :)

    Dezmond, impersonation is a way of trying to ride the popularity waves, but like you said, it just doesn't work. All too often the wave has passed by anyway ;)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Good post, Lynda. I especially agree with #5.

    Patricia

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.