In a previous post, we talked about reasons that some editors and literary agents don’t get jazzed up about good writing. So this week, we wanted to offer you some tips that can help you stand out in the crowd. Make your writing shine by pushing yourself to the next level.
Raise the stakes. What do your characters (or even you) have to lose? What if your heroine doesn’t get the guy? What if the student fails the test? What if the treasure map is not found? What if the secret is made public? What if the family does not reconcile?
If your answer is something along the lines of “the character will be sad and/or disappointed,” then you might want to give some more thought to upping the ante. What are the life-altering, horrible, unthinkable consequences of failure? Make them big. Then, make them bigger.
What are you afraid of? Want to break away from the pack? Write about what scares you. March right up to the things that make you cringe and cower, and look them in the eye. What scares you probably scares other people too—whether it’s one-armed killers or divorce. When you tap into your own fears, you tap into emotions common to us all.
Go after what you love. What gets you really jazzed up? What fascinates you? It may not be enough to simply skim the surface of the things that are interesting to you. Instead, you’ve got to dig deep. For example: Like flowers? Like cooking? Research them. Own them. Become the authority. Look at your subject from multiple angles. Exploit and explore elements of the things that fascinate you—and your readers will lock into your passion and, as long as you don’t overdo it, they’ll share it too.
Surprise us. Kids aren’t the only ones who love surprises. Are you keeping your readers on their toes? Do you have a surprise ending? Do your characters surprise us (is your hero a gruff, tatted-up ex-con who has a collection of antique dolls)? Surprise us and we’ll follow you forever.
Be insightful. Show us the world in a way that we’ve never seen it before. Make us think about things from a new perspective. Make the familiar unfamiliar. Make us say, “I never thought of it that way.”
Don’t make excuses. Here at Writer’s Relief, we can’t count the number of times we’ve heard writers say, “the story really picks up in chapter two…” Or “I know the secondary characters are not well-drawn, but the main character is awesome.” Veteran writers know an excuse when they see one. So you must…
Listen to your inner voice. Listen to the whispers. Let your subconscious mind direct your conscious mind. Try to get out of your own way. When the excuses (the blocks) are gone, your best writing can shine!
These are just a few things that you can do to make readers more excited about your writing—whatever your genre or form. If you’ve already got great writing, but you can’t manage to find the time to submit it, then you should contact Writer’s Relief. Seriously. We get it done for you. If you can take your writing to the next level, why not let us help you take your submission strategy there too? You don’t have to research and submit alone!
QUESTION: If you could only offer one piece of advice about crafting narrative to a new writer, what would it be?