Sunday, June 27, 2010

A few words on writing technique for everyone...

Writing can sometimes be something so personal that we don't want to share it with anyone until it reads perfect to us. If you've ever written anything, then shared the piece with others, you know it's like opening yourself up to let them see a part of you that you don't share often with anyone.

Years ago when I started writing, that's exactly how I felt, too. Belonging to a critique group is such a great experience but one has to be ready to accept all criticism and know that it's meant in the best way possible so you can become a better writer. You must be ready to read what is said about your writing, then take a deep breath and think about what the critique means. They aren't bashing what you wrote but trying to help you become better. This is exactly what happened to me years ago and it is one of the best pieces of advise I received; no, two, of the best pieces. I don't remember who it was, just that they belonged to our group and every two weeks we'd mail a packet to the next person in our group, who then mailed it to the next member after adding their comments. That description alone tells you how long ago that was!!

I'm going to share those bits of advice with you and hope it helps even one writer out there or an aspiring writer. Let me begin by saying that I had already completed a novel and with these bits of advise, I had to go back to the beginning and edit all 500 pages but it was sooooo worth it!! OMG - the difference the changes made changed the way the story read and made it a faster read. When I'm finished, I think you'll understand because this opened my eyes as to why, sometimes, one book seemed easier to read than another.

Think back on some of the books you've read that may have been a struggle to read, you might have had to re-read sentences or go back to re-read a paragraph or worse yet, thumbed back through the pages because you thought you'd missed something about a character or an event.

The first bit of advice:  watch how your character describes themselves!!
Let's say your character sees her dinner date coming toward her and it's their first meeting. Your character CANNOT SEE that her own eyes twinkle or her cheeks and neck may turn pink or red or that her hair is beautiful. Read that sentence again....

Which leads me to the next point - be sure you're in the Point Of View you need to be in.  Know which character you want to describe to the reader because a character can't explain how or what they look like to the reader unless they're looking in the mirror.

Another thing about point of view - DO NOT HEAD HOP! Don't be in one character's head for two paragraphs then be in another head and yet another. This is what makes a reader have to go back and re-read what you wrote, so they can keep up with who's head you're in. Don't do this to your readers or after too many times, they will just close the book and never open it again. I've done this, I know. Some authors will stay in ONE character's head for an entire chapter while others will be in one POV for only a scene or two. But stay consistent so your reader doesn't have to go back and re-read your work. If you want to describe a character to your reader, you must be in another character's head to do this or at least should be. We don't like to read about people who stand in front of mirrors all the time either.

Perhaps a third bit of advice also told to me - avoid author intrusion. This is when we describe the characters as they did this or they did that. If you're in a character POV, the character doesn't describe themselves as 'they' so keep an eye out in your writing for this. Use your find and search setting in your word processor to find 'they' or 'them'.

I hope I've given you a few points that will help improve your own writing. Feel free to leave a comment or perhaps you might want to leave a pointer that improved your writing. We'd love you to share with us.

Thank you for stopping in, for reading my article and mostly, if you share a comment, thank you for sharing!