Use Your Words
Happy November, gentle viewers! Here we go. NaNoWriMo is revving its engines and ready to go, I’m ready to make this an awesome month. Here’s who has joined us on the Rebel front:
Nila E. White
Kristin whose last name I just spaced (or don’t know)
Alexandra Roman de Hernandez
If I left you out and you want to join us, please feel free! The original post about the challenge is here.
And now to kick off NaNoWriMo, here are some high and lofty thoughts on writing. 🙂
Good writing connects with readers. For each piece you write, ask yourself:
- Who is my audience? Imagine the people you’d most like to reach.
- What do I want the experience and result of this piece to be? What do I want readers to know or believe? How do I want them to feel? What do I want them to do when they’re finished reading?
- How will I measure my ability to deliver on these goals? Workshop it in a writing group? Post it on my blog? Submit it to a publication?
Pay attention to feedback. You’ll start to see the types of people and publications that are attracted to what you write, how you’re meeting their needs (or not), and opportunities for becoming more effective.
Communication is one of those vital little abstract nouns that forms the foundation for so much of our world, from relationships to business to creativity. Effective communication transplants the thoughts or feelings of one person into the brain of another without using a massive hypodermic. Miscommunication (or poor communication) causes no shortage of angst, arguments, hurt feelings, and even war.
The written word is a powerful form of communication. As writers, it’s our job to make sure that we utilize all the tools in our toolbox to get our ideas across in an effective and succinct manner. We can paint pictures or tell stories with words. We can evoke strong emotions (more on that in a couple days!). We can also bore someone to the point that they throw our book across the room and ensure we never get to quit the day job.
This particular bit of The 25 applies pretty well to the little point on the map that describes my location in the writing process right now. Your answers might well be different than mine to these questions, but they’re important ones to ask.
1. Who is your audience? The people I write for love magic. Maybe they’re like me and begged Santa for a magic wand as a child and never gave up looking for it. They spend their lives hoping to turn a corner and find something shimmering and mystical. They love the supernatural and know that while they evolve, vampires don’t go out of style. They don’t mind getting messy because they know life gets messy. You’ll shed a little blood (maybe a lot of blood), cry some tears, fall in and out of love, and look with wonder as new days continue to dawn no matter what happened with the last sunset.
2. What do I want readers to experience, feel, and believe? What do I want them to do when they’re done? I want to give readers the magic they’ve been looking for. I want them to be able to live the lives of my characters right alongside them, to feel what they feel whether wonder or sorrow, and laugh and cry with them. I want them to believe that the world changes every day and that we must always adapt to it and humble ourselves knowing that we can never really say what comes next. I want them to feel like those collected bits of magic sprinkled through the story become their own personal treasure trove. When they’re done, I want them to crave the next book and tell their friends what it meant to them.
3. How will I measure my ability to meet these goals? For me, it’s always been about books. It’s been about the power of print and the feeling I get when I pick up a book I love so well I make it real, like the Velveteen Rabbit. If I do my job well enough, I’ll find a way to make my living creating new stories and new pages for people. My measure of success will always be the response of readers — if they love my characters and live my stories, then I will have succeeded. And that will be reflected in where my books land on the shelves. It’s all about connection, you see. Forging a connection through communication.
The sign of the best writers is that they write beautiful words — and they make those words disappear. When you read the work of the great writers, you forget you’re reading. You find yourself coming back to your world maybe hours later at four in the morning because you were unable to pull yourself out of their world. The words blur into pictures and experiences that tug at you until you succumb. You don’t find yourself wondering how someone’s car got totaled and she had no time to rent a new one, but somehow drives to a meeting the next day. You don’t flail your arms at comma splices or misspelled words. You get lost. And when you finally come up for air, all you can do is marvel, hungry for the next experience.
That’s the goal of all communication. Learn the rules, learn the ropes, line up your tools, and make the nuts and bolts disappear into experience. And that, gentle viewers, is how you use your words.