Writing Tip for Today: After a writer masters the basics of scene, sequel (narrative), dialogue, characterization and the rest, the next logical step is developing your unique voice and the elusive quality that packs emotion into every line. In order to do this, I think a writer needs to remove the training wheels. Here are some thoughts on treating your writing as if you are just taking your first real two-wheeler ride:
- Loosen Up. More than anything, I wanted to sit next to this contest entrant and whisper, "Loosen up. In places, you're trying too hard ." I could practically see this writer trying SO hard to get everything right that she/he wrote the life out of it in spots. A mentor of mine used to call it overwriting, where I would write something good (usually sensory/emotional) and then explain it or otherwise ruin it. Beware the show, now tell-in-case-they-don't-get-it problem.
- Commit to Crap. If you can allow yourself to write in a big, messy way when you draft, you may uncover that freshness, that voice we all covet. Revise intentionally, but draft (create) with the self-control off. It takes practice to be able to sit down and write something awful. But this is where discovery happens, where art happens. Learn to write crap.
- Go for the Guts. The way you pull your distinctive voice onto the page is by digging deep. You won't be able to evoke a made-up character's deepest emotions if you refuse to feel your own. I recommend journaling if you have a hard time letting your emotions show. But really, we read fiction for emotion, not info. The more you write honest, true emotion, the better your fiction will be.