The five tricks listed below may seem simple and obvious but put them in practice and watch your writing dramatically improve.
- Who is Your Reader?
- You may know the genre you are writing in but do you actually know who the people are who make up that community?
- If they are Young Adults, for example, do you understand the way an older teenager’s mind works?
- What holds their interest?
- What are their fears and dreams?
- What makes them frustrated?
- Can you write in the language/perspective that they understand?
- Short and Sweet
You may know the dictionary from end to end but your reader doesn’t care about that. Choose your words wisely, always keeping your objective in mind – to tease, tantalize and keep your reader’s interest at all times.
Short words and sentences – indeed, short paragraphs give a greater impact and are better understood than long, convoluted passages. The Dickens era is over. People have short attention spans. Remember that.
- Write with Power
That means using spirited active language instead of the sluggish passive voice. Any time you catch yourself using ‘was’ or ‘had been’ closely inspect your sentences. Do you need to speak in the past, or is that lazy, lifeless voice creeping in? Another clue to passive writing is long, convoluted sentences. Break them in half and they will almost always present your idea in a clear, concise and more engaging way.
- Rash and Brutal
These two adjectives should represent your writing style. Think of your first draft as a reckless foray into madness. Anything goes – let your characters loose to create as much havoc as they want; let the adverbs and exclamation marks flourish; allow the verbiage to flow; spew out the adjectives; vomit out reams of sentences; go crazy. But become a brutal slicing machine when you start your re-write. Cut the crap.
- U.B. Formula
Michael Masterson and Mike Palmer wrote a book called Copy Logic. In it, they suggested that alpha and beta readers should highlight anything they find Confusing, Unbelievable or Boring (C.U.B.). Using three different-colored highlighters to mark the C.U.B. formula makes it easy for the reader to do this and for the author to figure whether they need to make changes or not.
Creative Writing 101 – Tues. afternoons April 12 – June 28 in Oakville
Crafting Your Novel – Wed. afternoons April 13 – June 29 in Oakville
Crafting Your Novel – Thurs. afternoons April 14 – June 30 in Oakville
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