Writers Guild tip

Here’s help with your writing

Here’s help with your writing

Jan Marx

This article has been “percolating” in my head for several months. When I wrote it down there was a problem. At the end, over 500 words had spilled onto the page. Trimming the verbiage was time consuming and stressful. There’s always a deadline looming. After the third edit an executive decision to delete the whole thing was made. Time to start over.

Do you want to write and can’t seem to get started? Here are a few suggestions:

Choose your weapon: computer, typewriter or pencil and paper.

Make a list of things, people or incidents you want to tell about.

Decide on one item from your list. Break it down into one detail about your choice. For instance, if you decide on “travel” pick one detail about your journey, i.e. a visit to great-uncle George’s grave in the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

Don’t worry about your first sentence. You’ll probably edit it out later. Just write “Two years ago I went to France to find Uncle George’s grave.” After that tell your story.

As you write, show don’t tell. Saying, “It was a hot summer afternoon…” isn’t as effective as, “Sweat soaked my shirt…”

Use plain language. Avoid the thesaurus. Big words are for college professors or people who want to impress you with their great intelligence.

Dialogue, too, brings life to otherwise dull gobbledygook.

When you finish your story, reread it aloud. How does it sound? Do you need to clarify, delete or add to your story? Fix the problem and read over the whole piece again, correcting where necessary.

Check your first sentence or paragraph. Mark out whatever doesn’t contribute to the overall story.

Ask someone objective to read it and give constructive criticism. Ask him/her to avoid phrases like “It’s good” or “I don’t like it.” Your editor(s) should be specific about what “good” and “don’t like” mean. If he/she can’t tell you, find someone who can.

Make changes that make sense to you. Leave sentences or words the way they are if you don’t agree with their suggestions. Perhaps you need to elaborate or explain something.

Rewrite your story and “publish” it. Publishing can mean sharing with your family/friends. You don’t have to put it on Amazon to “publish.”

For information on my upcoming writing workshop this summer email me at [email protected]