Say what you mean.
- This rule applies to journalistic pieces which require precision in fact, thorough research and attention to detail. Create a character that feels the need to verbatim, review your latest piece of work. If it is positive, keep it, you may want to frame it later. If the character is full of #$%, you know where the shredder is; if you’d like, ripping it (the Review) to pieces, is also acceptable.
Show Don’t Tell
So – and – so died in hospital peacefully late ____ (insert the weekday) evening due to complications from____ .(Insert your malady.)Jacquie’s face went from a rosy colour to a shade of blue that made the afternoon sky look pale in comparison. There was a faint noise, like an engine stalled, emerging from her parted pale lips. The chicken bone was lodged in her throat. Everyone was focussed on the First Aid seminar speaker, who coincidentally, was giving a speech on the lack of qualified CPR applicants. She knocked her glass of water to the floor, it shattered to pieces. Now she had everyone’s attention.
- See how this description paints a picture instead of leaving the reader with the curiosity of the character’s composition, the setting, the scenery? Good fiction is made of such elements. I’ve already decided in the spirit of happy endings that Jacquie has survived this ordeal.
- While this is very factual and it definitely gets the point across, it is dull. Readers of fiction like to be engaged in the scene as well as the facts. Dialogue is helpful but not always necessary. Show the reader what happened:
- I haven’t read many obituaries over the years; when I did I was in J-school and I was given the assignment on writing an obituary of someone who was still alive. I found this type of writing very unethical and dry. I got a pass on the assignment but I learned the format just the same.
- Write What You Know – And What You Don’t Now, I’m not suggesting if you are a romance writer to go write a non-fiction piece on the next Prime Minister hopeful, but don’t sell yourself short either. Maybe try writing something on a small scale on other topics that interest you and then work your way to feature pieces and photo essays, if you are so inclined. The great thing about writing what we know is that we are already well versed in what it is we are writing about. The joy of writing what we don’t know is that it provides us a broader education in life and literacy.
In the spirit of all things unwritten, it is important that we as writers explore writing in various genres to discover where our strengths lay and also to learn what needs to be improved upon.
- Good Writers are Diverse Readers. Some examples of writers’ whose work you may find enjoyable are, Michelle Berry, interference, Susan A. Jennings, Black Lake Chronicles, and for short stories check out, Catina Noble, Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Edition Reader’s Choice. If you like books on writing, check out, Stephen King’s, On Writing.
- To follow your vocation as a writer requires at the least, a wide vocabulary, a computer or something to write with and a lot of passion for the craft and a curiosity for the unknown. In order to expand our vocabulary, and improve skills as a writer, it is common place to read a lot of books, to study other authors’ prose, and to build our vocabulary picking up new words along the way.
- Rejection is the pathway to success.
I have yet to meet a writer whose manuscript was accepted the first time they submitted it to a literary agent or publisher. Twenty rejections from publishers or agents mean there is still one right agent or publisher out there for you. Just keep at it. I believe in you.
*Previously Published in The Ink Never Runs Out.