Friday, February 24, 2012

Going from good to great

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!

25 comments:

  1. I will check this out. Thanks.

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  2. Hope you have a good weekend, as well. Ihave off today and tomorrow, and am only working Sunday. Woohoo.

    Still major signs of winter. More like a missplaced spring day. How 'bout your side if the woods?

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    1. we might get some snow today but it's been springlike here most of the week. very strange winter.

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  3. You've pushed me over my personal 'should I buy this' edge.

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    1. I've been reading it for years and find it increasingly helpful.

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  4. Thanks for the head's up!

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  5. thanks, woman! great advice and i love that mag!
    have a great weekend!

    and ps, i tagged you =)

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  6. I e-subscribe to the magazine, but I don't remember if I actually read the last issue. I probably saved and got busy. Thanks for the reminder!

    (I do use a lot of body language when I write).

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  7. Great points! Using body language is very effective and sometimes ignored.

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  8. And you will be great and wonderful writer, Marcy! Yay!! Take care
    x

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  9. These are great tips. I think as long as we all keep reaching, and learning, we'll keep advancing! :)

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  10. Darn, wouldn't you know my subscription just ran out. Forgot to renew. Oops. So thanks for sharing this. And I so agree with not talking down to the reader. People can figure out what's in between the words if given enough of a chance.

    Have a great weekend!

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  11. Hopefully I am writing at my readers.

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  12. I get Writers Digest, and that was an excellent article! :)

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  13. I get that mag, too (also "The Writer") and you're right; that was a terrific article.

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  14. I get this in my e-mail...save it, and then inevitably get sidetracked, and hardly ever get around to reading it. I think I should switch to the physical copy. And they say Print is Dead! HA! I scoff at "They"!

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  15. No fair! I just got mine and was going to do a post next week on this!lol It was a great article!

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    1. sorry :)

      you could do something on the mistakes writers make...

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  16. Great information. I love stuff like this that can help us be better...sometimes it is such little, easy things too. Thank you!!

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  17. Those are great tips!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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  18. Word choice can be an interesting dance. I agree with you that readers are a pretty smart bunch. As long as the writer has his audience in mind, the word choice can be pretty simple. But if the writer has some other focus, like a lesson they want to teach, then get ready for a wild and crazy two-step.

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  19. I love that magazine too though I no longer subscribe as part of my 'saving every cent to go to a conference' plan. I do skim it in the bookstore though. Nice concise post.

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  20. Hi Marcy
    That is great advice. I do love to read that magazine. I'm collecting pennies so I can splash them all on books ;) Anything I can't find online I read in the library. I'm going to find your Margaret Atwood recommendation.

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  21. Before I retired, I was a labor relations specialist and did a TON of negotiations from both sides of the table. Body language is very important and often means as much as what is coming out of a person's mouth!

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