Today we welcome Lynn Goodwin to Books & Such as part of the WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour! Lynn is here today to share some tips about how to make your writing stand out from the crowd. Her coming-of-age novel, Talent: Real Life Doesn’t Have a Script, was released in November 2015. Leave a comment below to be registered to win a copy!
Beyond Show—Don’t Tell:
Fifteen Tips To Make Your Writing Shine
Here are some tips that will help your writing sparkle. One of my tips is “Less is more.” In keeping with that sentiment, I have kept these short and simple.
- Write about an idea worth sharing. Everybody has them, you know.
- Figure out what makes your idea unique. If you look at it from that angle, you’ll interest more people and they’ll want to read something new, fresh, and exciting.
- Hook your readers in the first paragraph. Contemporary readers have very short attention spans.
- Know your characters. Know what they want, what they can do to get it, and what is in their way. Explore these three elements for each character in your journal. Interview the characters. Give them plenty of chances to share with you. It will pay off, because sympathetic, well-rounded characters draw readers into any story.
- Let events happen naturally and logically. Actions have consequences. Let one event lead to another.
- Be wary of digressions. Instead of deleting them, save your digressions for a different story.
- When you finish a draft, read it over. Underline words and phrases that have energy—whatever that means for you. Those are places that you may want to dig deeper and explore further.
- Delete anything that doesn’t belong. If you want to use it sometime, put it with your digressions and use it later.
- Read your writing out loud. Listen for places where your writing trips you up. Rephrase. Dig deeper. Eliminate unnecessary words. If none of that works, go to your journal and ask yourself why the passage trips you up. One idea will lead to another and you will figure it out.
- After you read, ask yourself what you want to know more about and make a list of questions that address those issues. Answer them when you are ready to do so. Keep going back and adding. Trust your instincts as you weave your newest discoveries into the story.
- After the next draft, have a trusted friend read your work to you. What do you hear that works? What could be clearer? What could be smoother? Make notes.
- With every draft, journal about the issues that came up for the author as well as the characters. These journal entries will give you insights.
- Write to elicit an emotional impact in the reader.
- Less is more. Don’t over describe, but give us enough thought that we sink into the story. Don’t flaunt your vocabulary.
- Write with your heart at least as much as you write with your head. Be subjective. If you are telling a story, let us live it with you.
My last piece of advice can be easy to follow or extremely difficult, depending on how you are hard wired. Be open to the suggestions of others, but don’t be governed by them. If an idea appeals, use it. If it makes you bristle, ask yourself why. You can journal about it if you want to, but maybe you don’t need to. Consider the knowledge and sensitivity of the person commenting. If a suggestion confuses you, ask the person who gave it to you what he or she means.
Remember, you need your approval and maybe you need an agent, editor, or publisher’s approval. Maybe not. Tell the story that you want to tell, a story you will be proud to call your own. I’ve given you tips. Please use whatever will work for you as you continue on your writing journey.
Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Bri, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.
Talent is a timely story about a girl who learns her brother is MIA in Afghanistan. What does she do? How does she cope while trying to be part of the drama department and attempting to live normally? Lynn Goodwin has captured the angst and the pathos of this situation and created a character who will appeal to many teens. All she wants to do is fit in and live her life, but events keep happening that don’t allow her to do this. I highly recommend this book as a way for young people to understand the effects of war on the people left behind and the kinds of problems teens face today.
TALENT is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Lynn-Goodwin/.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be registered to win a copy of Talent! This giveaway runs through March 16th.
Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com, and the author of both You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing), and TALENT (Eternal Press). Her blog is at http://blynngoodwin.com. Goodwin’s stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Good Housekeeping.com and many other venues. She is currently working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62.