March 5, 2014
This past Saturday my local (well, 100 miles down the interstate) RWA chapter had Margie Lawson in for her “Deep Editing Power” and “Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues” workshops. We spent the day learning how to give more emotional power to our writing and how to analyze our work for weak spots.
May I just say, my head is spinning! So much information in one day! One of the highlights was when she used ENLAR’s
own Laura Drake’s book, THE SWEET SPOT as an example of powerful emotional writing. I wanted to shout, “I know her! She’s a
blog buddy!” And the excerpt Margie used from THE SWEET SPOT was, indeed, powerful and emotional.
I came away from the workshop with numerous reminders of things I’d learned in the past but sometimes forget in my haste to finish a book by my deadline. I also could tell some of the newer writers sitting around me were getting frustrated. They were finding flaws in their writing and feeling overwhelmed by all the information.
I wanted to tell them all to take a deep breath and let the info settle in and steep. Writing is a process that matures over time. If you try to do EVERYTHING you’ve learned in workshops on a first draft, you can kill your creative muse. That’s what editing is for. And why you must write new books for practice. The more you write and edit and read and critique and have editors work over your baby, the more some of these tips and tricks will become second nature to your storytelling.
But even seasoned writers with 20-25 books under their belt (like me) have to be reminded every now and then to backload sentences and paragraphs and chapters endings to maximize the effect of power words and emotions.
(Backloading is basically putting the strongest most important and emotional idea last. Here’s an example from my own writing that I found Saturday and need to rearrange. First draft: An injury to her feet or legs would be a death sentence to her as a smokejumper. Meh. Or: As a smokejumper, an injury to her feet or legs would be a death sentence. Better! See how the more powerful, emotional words death sentence have more impact coming at the end of the sentence?)
I remember going to workshops as a new writer and thinking I could never do it all. There were simply too many rules and guidelines to remember. How could one possibly write and keep all the Do’s and Don’ts in mind? Generally, from my experience, you don’t. No all of them all of the time. That’s why editing is so important! It’s your second, third, fourth chance to cut, reword, strengthen and generally power up what your muse gave you the first time around. I do believe my head would explode if I tried to do everything at once. But you go to workshops to learn, then go home and practice, practice, practice. Eventually employing the rules and devices becomes more instinctive.
So writers, what writing tip or technique do you have to remind yourself of and work in most often when you revise?