20 April 2013

Tools of the Writing Trade

Just for a chance to explore something outside of the normal realm of writing advice, I thought I might address some of the tools we writers use to compose our work.

Let’s start with the big one: Our Imagination.

Admit it. Writing would be rather boring if we had the same plot, the same concept, for every story. If each character reacted just like people we know, it becomes hard to point to anything unique about the story. With our imagination, we can take four people and make a unique person that we write about, with the perfections and foibles of the people we smashed together.

Another big tool to consider as we discuss this topic: Our Vocabulary.

I’m catching some strange looks. Consider how a word variety makes a difference in our sentences. If we always talked about walking from room to room, or running from room to room, it seems rather mundane.  However, if they shuffled from room to room, or perhaps danced, it gives a greater image of the person’s movements and adds characterization. Now, the advice for dialogue tags is to only use “said,” which I agree can seem boring, however, it does become invisible for most readers. This doesn’t mean that you can’t tag dialogue differently, but use it SPARINGLY.

The final tool I want to mention that makes our writing complete: The Real World

Twisted your mind with that one, didn’t I? Ponder this for a moment: We don’t live in a vacuum, where what we do has no consequences.  Small decisions might not seem like they create a wave, but we don’t know what our decision to eat at a certain restaurant does. Perhaps we miss meeting that big movie producer… or run into the bigger producer at the chosen restaurant. Maybe a concept becomes clearer based on a waitress or hostess.  Even better, perhaps we’ll pick up a story line from the restaurant we decided to frequent.  It’s all about refilling that creative reservoir.

As you write, think about these very important tools.

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