Thursday, March 16, 2017

Writing Tips When Stuck

Spring is an interesting time of the year. It’s a period of rebirth despite how it’s in March as opposed to January. I would like to offer a couple of writing tips that I’ve recently implemented in the last few months in the spirit of Spring Cleaning. They aren’t magical solutions to have brilliant writing. But the tips are a way to make writing more developed for writers that might be stuck with how to polish their writing.

A more rigorous outline is one example of a writing tip. Yes. I’ve always used an outline when writing a short story or novel in terms of plot. But I’ve made them more detailed by including the sensory details I want in each scene. Including sensory details in my outlines has been invaluable. Writers are often bombarded with the idea of, “show don’t tell.” Fixing that issue can be difficult, though. The details don’t even have to be complicated. They can be as simple as “the wind whistled, pushing an empty can a few feet down the sidewalk” or “the mixture of the bitter flavor of the espresso and sweet taste of the caramel jolted my taste buds after I sipped my Caramel Macchiato.” Those are just two examples. But my point remains clear. Such details bring writing to life. Imagery helps writing even when not writing literary fiction. 

Setting is another way to expand upon writing craft. Setting is different than imagery because it doesn’t have to directly be one of the five senses. Setting can mean having the main character observe an unusual looking person or building in a scene. Such scenes can make writing richer without seeming highbrow or convoluted. Doing so offers an opportunity to for writers to have their character “meditate.” Having your main character see a person that’s “larger than life” or an unusual building or location can make the main character ponder about his or her life or display psychology by showing how a character thinks (like in terms of judgements).

I’ve also improved upon endings with my writing.

It’s difficult to find the right balance between closure and ambiguity if a novel is part of a series. Pushing forward is a way I’ve improved with endings. For instance, one of my teen mystery novels originally ended with a murder staged as a suicide. But I pushed forward when polishing that specific ending because payoffs are necessary. That means the door can be open for more material while seeing some consequences of the event. Let’s continue with the murder staged as a suicide example. I brought the staged suicide into specific text as opposed to ambiguous text or just plain subtext by adding a few more chapters after the event. 

Ultimately, writers must realize that there is no one right way to polish writing. Yes. I wrote polish instead of revise. Revise sounds clinical, which make expanding upon writing craft overwhelming. Because what is right for one writer might be completely wrong for another. The point is, writers needs as many tools as possible to work with.

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