Thursday, January 5, 2017

Don't End Up In The La-La Land of Lost Writing

I have an incredibly busy day today so here's a repeat of a popular post of several months ago. It's a good checklist for whatever you are writing.



We admire strength; it's something we strive for in many parts of our life. Strong writing should figure in the top part of your list of writing goals. We use the term often and maybe even overuse it without giving enough serious thought to what it means to us, as writers.

To me, strong writing has many facets. Here is a partial list:

Sticking to the topic:  Too often, writers end up straying away from the original topic and find themselves writing two essays instead of the one they intended. Eliminate that second topic; save it for another essay to write later.

Perfect, or almost perfect, mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling): Don't think an editor is going to 'fix' everything you miss in this department. Have enough errors in this department and your submission will end up in the La-La Land Of Lost Writing.

No rambling:  Nothing is more boring than reading something that makes a point, then rambles on and on about the same thing. Say it and move on.

Active verbs:  We know that active verbs make a story more visual but too often we take the lazy man's way out with too many passives like is, was were...

Good dialogue:  Flat dialogue creates flat characters. Put active, interesting words into the mouths of your characters.

Redundancy:  Give your readers some credit. You can make a point without repeating it in different words. Most of them will 'get it' the first time.

No droning on and on: Similar to redundancy but some writers can drone on and on with the description of a chair. Unless it has great significance to the story, don't do it.

Use metaphors and similes but don't overdo: Use them but don't repeat the same ones in the same story. Some authors seem to find a simile that they like a lot and so they use it again and again. The simile begins to stand out to the reader. Come up with new ones or don't use them. Use any of them sparingly.

No clichés:  Oh, aren't they tempting? We have heard them for years but that's the problem--so have your readers. They prefer something new.

Build tension:  Whether it is fiction or creative nonfiction, do this to make your reader want to keep reading. It can be huge or it can be a small thing, but it's a good way to keep your reader interested.

A good hook at the beginning:  Grab readers with an opening paragraph that piques interest. You also want to do this with an editor reading your submission.  Action works well.

Strong ending: Strength and satisfaction, maybe even a surprise, is called for in the ending of what you write. Haven't we all read a book with a flat ending? I feel cheated when that happens.

What other points would you add to this list? What do you consider to be strong writing?

Use the above as a checklist so your submission does not find a home in the La-La Land Of Lost Writing.

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