|Harriet Cooper, Toronto Writer|
One of the great boons of the internet is that we can carry on a full conversation with a friend in another country with the click of the mouse. Yesterday, writer Buddy, Harriet Cooper, and I were having a chit-chat. She mentioned that she'd pulled out an old story and was reworking to fit a new Chicken Soup book. Harriet has more stories in Chicken Soup books than anyone I know.
Harriet said that she had noticed some differences in her present day writing over what she'd produced several years ago. I asked her what had changed. Her answer is below.
As for what's changed? Not the voice. That's been pretty consistent. But my technique has changed. A lot less narrative, more scene setting, more attention to flow, better word choice. Before I was so engrossed in the content that I didn't pay much attention to the form. I don't even think I was aware of form. Now I am. For that reason, I think my work is much better because the content and form now help each other rather than work against it.
I definitely think Harriet's comment is a gem. We all start out with content and get so engrossed in it that sometimes we forget the form part of writing. It's easy enough to use a great deal of narrative to tell your story. But if you do as Harriet suggests--'more scene setting, attention to flow, better word choice'--your story will glow.
In addition, using more sensory details brings a sparkle to the basic story. Watching things like repetition of words and writing tight instead of rambling on and on will increase the chances that your story will be selected for publication.
Read Harriet's quote again. Maybe read it a few more times. There's gold in her words. Step 2 is to put those things to work in your own writing. Make it shine!
P.S. Be sure to read Harriet's comment below.