Don’t have time to read? Listen instead! Click the media player to hear now or the icon to download for later.
Every writer is a warrior deep down inside. We want to blaze new ground with our writing, innovate within a genre, or add a crazy new flavor to the hum-drum vanilla prose that’s out there. We want to stand out and be heard–to resonate with our audience. We want readers to say, “Hell, yeah!” when they read our stuff.
But how do we razzle-dazzle ’em? Let’s face it, we share the words available to us. It’s how we put them together that makes us shine or marks us as drab imposters. Here are a few ways that you can take your writing from faded to fierce:
Nothing is more deflating than a writer who isn’t interested in what they’re creating. Choose genres or topics that really light your fire–that glow will be translated to your audience through impassioned, lively prose. Is fantasy your shtick? Then shtick with it rather than trying to write a romance; even if the romance genre is currently popular. If you must write about a topic you’re not interested in (many non-fiction freelancers fall into this category) then try to find an interesting or little-known fact about your topic to share with readers.
Don’t just describe scenes, costumes, or people. Write about what moves them, how they feel, what roadblocks they face, what triumphs they enjoy. This works for place and setting as well as characters. Take this description of Victorian England from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist:
“It was nearly two hours before day-break; that time which in the autumn of the year, may be called the dead of night; when the streets are silent & deserted; when even sounds appear to slumber, and profligacy & riot have staggered home to dream.”
Here, Dickens attributes the human abilities of dreaming to activities like profligacy and riot. He even tells of how sounds “slumber” in the dead of night. This is gut-writing: placing emotion and feeling in otherwise mundane descriptions will tap your readers on the shoulder and say, “Listen up!”.
Did your romance-based story line just wander down a dark, mysterious path? Don’t try and shove it back into place — embrace the change and see where it leads your characters and their stories. Pedantic writing professionals are fond of mentioning how there are only seven basic plots and nothing new under the sun. That’s as may be, but what if your little trip through the woods leads to a hybrid kind of story that no one’s ever seen before? After all, “supernatural romance” didn’t exist 20 years ago!
We often forget that writers are just artists who paint with words. Because language has “rules” and “guidelines” we often forget to color outside the box and end up stomping on our own creativity in the process. When you’re writing, be free and unfettered with your language and your ideas. Leave the editing for later.
Creativity doesn’t thrive in status quo situations. Every now and again, you need to break out and shake yourself up a bit to get your ink flowing. Remember, though, you’re an individual–what’s crazy for one may be tame for another. If your idea of crazy is eating pineapple on your pizza one night, bravo! On the other hand, if you want to dye your hair purple and chant naked in the moonlight, then go right ahead (making sure that you aren’t breaking any laws or freaking out your neighbors, of course). The point is, learning to do things every now and then that are a bit out of your comfort zone will keep you from falling into creative ruts and lend your writing an edge it may not have had in your less kooky moments.
See you on the next page!