Moira here welcoming you back to another #SensualSunday. This week’s topic is much more lighthearted than many I’ve posted to date. Today I’m talking about a couple problems all author’s run into now and again.
When they flow they are like a faucet full open and you can barely keep your fingers moving fast enough to get them all down. You’re in the groove, you’re feeling the characters practically draped over your shoulders and chattering in your ears. Then it’s like someone turned off the water at the main mid-sentence. Your mind is a blank, your characters are stuttering like a teen faced with their first crush trying to come up with something to say and you’ve got nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
We all run into a brick wall from time to time. You have a word right on the tip of your tongue and yet you can’t quite grasp hold. Now you’ve totally skidded off the road of thought you were speeding down seconds before into the proverbial tree that stops you dead in your tracks. It’s a horrible feeling to be struggling for a word. Especially when you can’t dredge it up and have to restructure your entire sentence for whatever you choose next.
Been there, done that.
Too many authors use words that don’t fit in their stories. Big words. Superfluous words. Words that have readers snatching up their dictionary or going into their dictionary app to find out the meaning. While certain stories require a certain language – ie: Historical, Regency, etc. – you need to use language suited to your story and characters. There’s no need to be exceedingly grandiose merely to grandstand for your contemporaries.
If you have a character who is a doctor some medical jargon is expected. Ditto if it’s a pilot, a professor, a historian and so forth. But whatever you are writing and whatever language you are using make sure you use it correctly. There are numerous online resources to assist with that, and you even have the option of reaching out to someone in that field to run the terminology and how you’re using it past them. If you do this last one, make sure you give the individual(s) the credit due for their assistance.
Don’t go throwing in fancy words just for the sake of fancy words. All this will do is frustrate your readers and potentially ensure they never, ever read another one of your books no matter what you write.
There are days where stringing together two words is a strain, let alone constructing a full sentence. Kinda like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole, or vice versa. Play it out in your head. Visualize your characters in the scene speaking the words. Does it sound stilted or off? Then it will read the same. Wipe the slate clean and replay the scene again. Do this until the conversation or scene starts to flow better. You should write how you speak, just avoid slang or any weird abbreviations or contractions.
The more the story reads like how you view the world, or how you talk to the people you know the better the flow will be. Be real people. Don’t go pretending to be someone you’re not even while you are expanding your horizons and stretching yourself into new realms. We all had to learn how to walk before we could run, why would you think writing is any different? At the same time don’t be afraid to try something new – yes it’s scary, and yes it will be a challenge but there’s fun in trying new things.
When words are put together in just the right way you have the power to move your reader beyond them. You can immerse them in the bowels of an alien society. You can make them feel abject terror, or gut churning rage. You can move them to uncontrollable tears, or lift them to a place of absolute joy.
As an author you have a duty not only to yourself, but to your readers. This duty involves not only being true to your vision and characters, but presenting them in a manner that is easily enjoyable for your readers.
Words are powerful, they have started wars and they have destroyed entire civilizations. While we can only hope to be this powerful in our writing let’s not get too full of ourselves at the same time. Be true to yourself, your art, and your readers. And have a little fun while you’re at it too. Show some of your personality in what you write. It’s okay to enjoy your craft.
One last thing I want to say before I let you get back to your weekend. Unless you are writing a technical manual for some hunk of machinery, don’t go getting too verbose with your terminology. Sometimes the most powerful of messages are written in the fewest, choicest words.
XO Moira Callahan