It's funny that my latest Writer's Digest should have an article about this, because I was thinking about this very subject the other day, that is, how to go from being good, or even very good, to amazing. See, I was thinking about the craft of writing and comparing it to, say a sport. At the very bottom would be the amateur writer, the one who doesn't spend much time practicing. At the very top would be those writers who have mastered their game. Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, George R. R. Martin and Ursula LeGuin come to mind.
And I'll tell you something, I want to be a master of my game. I am not content to be a good writer. I want to be better than that, and even if I might not achieve the star status of the authors I mentioned, I can always work on improving my game, making myself into the writer I want to be. Because lucky for me, no coordination required.
So, toward that end, I'll share three of seven techniques to improve your writing. The rest can be found in the March/April Writer's Digest Magazine.
#1 - In addition to the five senses, use body language. It's another way to show how your characters are feeling, what they might be thinking.
#2 Give your character an idiosyncrasy or an obsession. Look what it did for Melville :)
#3 Don't write down to your readers. People who read are a pretty smart bunch. "If abhorrent is the right word, don't change it to yucky. And when hill is the right word, don't change it to acclivity just to show off."
For a more in depth explanation of these techniques pick up the mag, it's worth it; I almost always find something helpful within its pages. This month, in addition to 7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great, you'll find 5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make, an interview with Robert Kirkman - the creator of The Walking Dead (and I LOVE The Walking Dead. LOVE.) - and the monthly feature, "Reject a Hit" in which one lucky reader gets to play rejecting editor to a famous author. The one rejecting Moby Dick was hilarious.
Happy writing and enjoy your weekend!