Written by Beth Rodgers
The ABCs of writing continue this month with the rest of the alphabet (see January’s post here). It’s vital for writers to know their own ABCs so they know what they’re aiming for in writing.
Nostalgia. Use experiences and memories. Capitalize on the effects of something that happened to you, or causes that got you there. Feed into nostalgia by remembering how you got a character out of conflict in the past. It may help you figure out just how to solve a similar problem in a new story you’re writing. Use nostalgia to your benefit. Establishing a solid store of connected memories and emotions can make for gripping writing.
Opaque. Don’t be too opaque or transparent. Don’t make it difficult to understand, or, for that matter, too simple. Leave room for curiosity. Don’t give everything away (too transparent), and don’t keep everything a secret until the last chapter (too opaque). Let readers’ minds wander, but give clues to maintain interest.
Purpose. It may sound cliché, but writing must have purpose. Know what you’re writing, whom you’re writing for, and why you’re writing. This helps writers hit home with their purpose. It’s the driving force behind the greatest writing.
Quality. Quality may seem an overdone characteristic, but it’s absolutely essential. You may have heard that quality is more important than quantity. In good writing, this rings true. Quantity looks good on paper (the more you have, the more work you did, right?), but the truth is that too much of something can be troublesome. For example, you might find yourself becoming repetitive if you’ve done too much writing. Season your writing with quality; pepper it with all the ABCs that are staples of your process.
Respect. Have you ever read a book, watched a show, or listened to a song and wondered how in the name of good writing certain lines got uttered? Maybe you’ve wondered how certain writers keep their jobs or how they continue to publish? Respect quality writing. Prove you know what makes good, impressive writing by reading great authors’ works and aspiring to the greatest heights with your own. Not only should you respect others’ writing, but you should respect your own. If you don’t respect what you do, how will others?
Sportsmanship. Give your characters competitive edges. Let them work both for and against one another to make more compelling, animated writing. You want to keep readers on the edges of their seats by keeping characters on those same edges. Make characters so vivid that readers are rooting for or against them as they deal with written conflicts and emotions.
Tact. Watch your word choice. You don’t want to fall into the trap of using too strong or too juvenile of language. Gauge your intended audience and see what words and phrases best fit. When writing dialogue, write how a person talks – not necessarily with proper grammar. Understanding your characters will help your writing become more tactful.
Uniformity. Don’t conform to normal writing approaches. That isn’t to say that some of those approaches shouldn’t be used, because they should be. Take into account all approaches that other writers have used to make their writing magical, creative, and interesting. When you make your writing put on a “uniform,” you aren’t allowing it to bask in its own glory. Let your writing take its own form. Let it whisk you off into other worlds and help you understand your own style and approach.
Value. Surely you take a vested interest in your writing. After all, you’re penning it. So, value your writing technique. Trust what you know and what you write, and encourage yourself as you go. Second, find value in your writing. See strengths it exhibits. However, don’t forget to look for areas to improve. It’s the mark of a great, gifted writer when he or she can see areas that are lacking and in need of refinement.
Whimsy. Make your writing fancy-free and whimsical. Imagine new worlds. Reach new heights or depths. Create characters that only you have the ability to solidify through your unique technique. Have fun, and as you do, write to your heart’s content!
Xylophone. There aren’t many words that begin with ‘X’ that work. So, go with me here. A xylophone produces different sounds depending on the parts hit. So should it be with writing. Know how to hit high notes, low notes, and everything in-between. Xylophones allow you to improvise, so try out different writing styles. Improve your technique by testing different genres. See what you can do to make your writing more surprising and impressive.
Yet. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? You may not have been published yet. You may not have perfected your writing technique yet. You may not even know what you want to write about yet. Notice what the key word is in all this: yet. Nothing may have happened yet, but it may be on the verge of happening. Don’t give up. Keep trying. Work harder. Strive to higher heights; imagine thrilling scenes. Everything good will come in time, as long as you keep in mind that it might not have happened yet, but it’s working its way there, just as you’re still working your way there.
Zest. One of the most important aspects of the ABCs of writing is to have zest for what you’re doing. You want to come across as someone who loves his or her craft, and the best way to do this is to prove your love of writing by making it part of your everyday life. Use zest to engage in symbolism, vocabulary, and other aspects of your own ABCs that make you love what you do.
The ABCs of writing don’t stop here. There are many more words that can be explored to further your craft. You can learn to write what you like and do it well.
Now that you’ve read my ABCs of writing, what are yours?