Monday, September 14, 2009

Wake Up Your Writing

Since I'm having a hard time moving out of wake up mode this morning, I thought I'd chat with you a bit about waking up your writing.

How do you know if your writing needs a wake up call?

If you yawn reading the first chapter, that might be a clue.

Are your sentences repetitious constructions?

Do you use tired verbs? Mousy nouns?

Clues two, three, and four.

I'm not advocating making your work sound as if you've strolled through the dictionary or thesaurus. I am suggesting that you paint as vivid a picture of your story as possible without diving into purple prose.

You'll clear up a lot of these things as you work through each draft. After you've read your work for all the other stuff you do during editing, read it again for your word choices. Your eyes may pop wide open.

And your story might pop to life.

8 comments:

Laura Eno said...

And there are so many editorial opinions out there to confuse as well - some advocating stark sentence structure, which I find unappealing. Which you have probably deduced from the length of that first sentence. :)
You are right, we need to walk that line between vivid construction and purple prose in order to engage the reader. They must have clues to bring their mental imagery into play.

Carol Kilgore said...

Exactly so, Laura.

Individual style comes into play. Voice of the author, voice of the character. The character of the piece.

In general with this post, I'm speaking to those writers who will say something like 'She went to the store.' for every sentence.

Maybe I'll use this as a jumping off point for my writing topic next Monday.

Michael Bracken said...

She went to the store. She bought eggs. She bought rat poison. She went home. She prepared her husband's breakfast.

You mean, like that?

Carol Kilgore said...

LOL Michael!
Yeah, sorta.

Lynnette Labelle said...

Michael: Too funny!

Awareness is great, but we also have to be prepared to kill our darlings. ;) Not everyone can do that.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Terry Odell said...

LOL, Michael!

Coincidentally, we're talking about voice at my blog - author Neil Plakcy was my guest today, and I'm following up tomorrow.

The trouble with 'voice' is that you can't really teach it. Because, as you point out, there's that danger of sounding like a thesaurus, or worse, like another author.

Carol Kilgore said...

So right about those darn darlings, Lynnette. You know how tough some of those little suckers are? But it pays to be persistent.

Carol Kilgore said...

I agree, Terry. Wouldn't it be nice if voice could be taught? The only way I know to find it is to keep writing until it decides to show up.