from Zero to Writer

from Zero to Writer

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Composing Effective Prose: Part 5

Writing DOES have a secret ingredient. Want to know what it is? Read on to find out. Or cheat by skipping to the bottom, who’s gunna know?


I hope this series on prose has helped you, even in the smallest of ways. If you found one tool to help better your prose, were linked to a website you connected with, or fixed even one sentence in your WIP, I accomplished what I set out to do. And if you haven't read it all, you can read Parts 1-4 by simply locating them on the side bar or scrolling down.

Let’s wrap this up with a brief post on Voice.

A good voice is not easily cultivated. It takes year-after-year of slamming down words, figuring out what works for you, and embracing the evolutionary process that accompanies the craft. Like growing, it’s often painful, can come in spurts, and stretches you beyond your comfort zone. But growth (i.e. constant practice, struggle, and fall-on-your-ever-loving-face mistakes) is the only thing that will take you out of writing infancy and into the full maturity of your carefully voice.

Don’t give up because it gets hard. Often times, your greatest struggle leads to your greatest success. At least, I hope so. For all our sakes.

Here are some tips to help cultivate your “voice.” For more excellent advice, check out the links at the bottom of the page…

- Read. Anyone who has read more than a paragraph of my blog knows that I advocate plentiful and abundant reading. Experiencing the writing voices of accomplished writers helps to groom your own.
- Speak into a recorder. Listen to it.
- Observe your surroundings. Write what you see in the exclusive lens to which you see it.
- Stalk people in public—coffee shops, malls, restaurants, etc.—listen to how they speak to help get the voice of your conversations down. That's right, I said stalk them.
- Use vocabulary true to your characters. If you have a woman from the south, “y’all” and “Bless her heart” can be as much a part of her as any other description you give. Ditto for any part of the world. Do your research and use what you’re comfortable using.
- Read a stack of emails you’ve sent to friends, coworkers, or family members in the past, and mimic the spontaneity. This form of writing is often lively, intimate, and (most importantly) engaging.
- Paint with your words. Use the ones you love (careful not to use the same words too often) and brandish them in ways that are distinctive to you.
- Write about what you value, what makes you sick, what keeps you up at night.
- Above all, write often, daily if possible. Write even if the work will never make it into your blog, your short story, or your manuscript. Back in my tattoo artist days, I would draw and draw and draw. Very few of those ever found permanent homes on skin, but they helped me be a better artist. But, come on, you don't need someone to drill into you the importance of practice. Or, at least, you shouldn't.

Avoid the following…

- Don’t use the wrong voice and tone for the occasion or audience. Have you ever read a genre where the voice didn’t quite fit? I read a middle grade fantasy once that read very similar to a Hemmingway-esque adventure. Needless to say, I didn’t connect well with it. Choosing the correct tone requires tact and ample reading.
- Avoid using the wrong POV, tense, or both.
- Avoid using a phony tone. Why impersonate other authors when you can create your own voice?

So, what’s the “Secret to Writing?" Simple.

It’s YOU.

Write in your unique voice, write your unique thoughts and opinions, write your unique story. Out of all the six billion voices in the world, no one can write in yours except you. No pressure.

This has been another "'No Post on Sundays' Post"

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