Bad habits and weak words hold us back. We have ideas, dreams ready to be put on paper, but we find ourselves making the same mistakes. Our writing doesn’t strike the right chords. Luckily, it isn’t so difficult to fix those problems, break those habits and build an enjoyable novel or article.
Let’s talk about that!
Writing with Impact
Finding a subject with an impact is easy. You find what touches you, what you are passionate about and know others are as well. Heart-break, fear, a lust for power or a desire to make the right decision, to bring justice to the unpunished or order to the chaos.
These are common examples, human characteristics, making them easy to understand. It is why many writers choose these ideas to plot their stories. If you were to take some of your favorite novels and concentrate them down to their core element, it would be one of the above.
The first step in strengthening your writing is finding something strong to build off of. You need not go into writing with the idea clear in mind, but you can build a story on that idea and it is that story you focus on. I do not dare tell you how to develop a story, but I can give you the tools that might help your scene hit a lot harder.
A way of phrasing a hard-hitting sentence can mean everything. It can decide whether your scene evokes a powerful emotion or only a brief-expression that fades as soon as the scene concludes.
Powerful Word for a Powerful Scene
The question on whether you should write something cold through a nondescript paragraph or something more inspiring through emotive language often arises. Depending on your writing style, you can easily write a scene with more pedestrian language. In many cases, this is the right way to go.
If every scene was forced to be impactful, none of them would be. It would read like a farce, a joke story with unfounded, ridiculous drama around every corner. Unless this is your goal, you only end up jeopardizing your story. Which is why it is best to make use of such inspired writing when it is most important.
For example, trust is built slowly over time, but torn away in one crucial moment.
A character of yours can have a goal and systematically work towards it throughout your novel. The character may encounter obstacles or find they took two steps forward instead of one. These are fundamental scenes that build a great story, but what will be the most difficult and important scene to write is when they fail or succeed.
If they succeed or fail, you should reach within yourself to find that poetic empathy. Describe to the reader the euphoria that your character feels in that moment, in a way that every person can. Find the words the reader longs or fears to hear. The words that will spread their wings as they soar on the success of your character’s victory, or crumple, destroyed and helpless if the character should fail.
You will need to know when and how to create an impact. If you know your story and you know these words, you should have no problem invoking the right emotions in the reader.
Laziness Should Be Avoided in Writing
There is a variety of words which you no doubt use unconsciously. The words which weaken your writing, that break the beautiful book you have worked hard to develop. That is not to say you should never use these words, but to use them frequently would be detrimental to your story.
The first, and most obvious, is ‘very’.
It is a word that inspires laziness, not creativity. It is a word that if cut out would improve a sentence ten-fold. I need not bring up Robin Williams’ monologue on the word ‘very’ Dead Poets Society to reinforce this statement, but in case you have not seen it, I recommend you do.
Expand your vocabulary to find the word. An extra thought could mean the difference between ‘very good’ and ‘splendid’. By the way, ‘good’ is another word to be careful of overusing, but not as much as ‘very’.
The second word is ‘suddenly’.
It is a word that is used to cheat the reader out of something more impactful. ‘Suddenly’ is used by writers who do not know how to get from one point to another. Once more, it is a word that is better left out if you can’t replace it with something fitting.
Thirdly and finally, ‘that’.
Another word that can be omitted if its place in your writing is only to serve as padding. Re-read a sentence when using ‘that’, except this time without it. If your sentence reads the same, it is better to remove it and save yourself from a bad writing habit.
Your Attitude Towards Writing
The last factor to consider in strengthening your writing is less practical advice on improving it, but more advice on how to approach your writing. While this is advice more for writers who write as they go, even the most professional writer tends to write when they are not in the mood to do so.
A writer’s attitude towards their work will help decide if their writing is well thought out or a mess of thoughts and ideas. It does not mean that this mess of ideas won’t be presented well, but it won’t have the same degree of skill put into it as much as a scene or paragraph that the writer gave proper thought.
It all comes down to the feeling of urgency a writer feels.
Writing a book, for example, takes a large amount of time. It requires planning and re-writing before the finished result is satisfactory. With this amount of time in mind, it is understandable for a writer to want to speed up the process. Be it in small ways such as rushing to finish a certain word-count each day or perhaps removing important scenes that they had previously planned, as they might not be necessary.
In doing so, the writer weakens their writing. To strengthen it, a writer needs to keep an easy deadline, which will help them stick to their writing schedule. However, that goal should be flexible enough to allow for something to get in the way, such as the writer struggling. The writer takes their time without this pressure, allowing them to do their best work.
Or at least, better work than they would be doing if they forced themselves to write.
On a personal note, I believe every writer should seek to improve. No matter how successful you are, you are no doubt haunted by insecurity that a scene or dialog or article isn’t good enough. Which is fair and common in writers.
It is this insecurity that you have to learn to work with. You can use it as a driving force that makes you research different ways of writing. It makes you practice and rewrite until a scene or article is more to your liking. A constant desire to become a better writer, each and every day, will result in you developing better articles and novels.
As always, good day, goodnight and happy writing!
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Thank you very much for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer
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