Monday, December 29, 2014

Writing Well in 2015 - Take a Tip From a Memoirist

One of the best pieces of advice an editor can give a writer is to write; an even better recommendation is to write slowly, consciously, reflectively. That's how memoirists write, and one way fiction writers can bring a deeply reflective quality to their
work is to evaluate every word for precision, context, clarity and revelation. Here are some examples:
Clarity helps both writer and reader
  • Precision: Rather than use common nouns or noun phrases, consider more specific choices. For example, if you're referring to the area just above the upper lip, use dent, divot, groove or philtrum.
  • Context: Even original descriptions can be generic. To avoid this, consider using descriptive words or phrases that suit the context. For instance, if you're writing about a seamstress, choose words and phrases to describe the setting that relate to the art and craft of sewing.
  • Clarity: Sometimes, what's clear to the writer isn't clear to the reader. For example, how a character responds to a life-changing event hinges on who the character really is, and how mature he is at that point in the story. Make sure your character's response to an event is consistent with who he is and who he is becoming.
  • Revelation: Each word choice should reveal something to the reader about the story, plot, characters and setting.
To make the best use of the slow-writing technique, start small, with a sentence or paragraph; then move to a scene or chapter. To check for overwriting, wait a couple of days; then reread the section. You may find some cumbersome language, but you may also find that you're revealing more to yourself and your readers as you write. Generally, it's easier to trim writing than expand it. This is especially true when there's enough substance to trim.

What project are you working on now that could use a bit more precision?