Though good writing is subjective, there are things a good writer can and will do to bring in and keep a reader’s interest. Here are five tips for effectively writing a creative piece.
There is a trap many young writers fall into and struggle to escape. Purple prose is the most dangerous thing that can ruin any writing career before it’s started. An example of purple prose is something like: “A piteous wretch lay in the darkness, his bosom heaving with great sorrow.”
A reader shouldn’t have to have a dictionary at hand when reading the book. You are not writing to make others in awe of your superior intellect. You are writing to show them the world you’ve created. How the previous example should’ve gone is something like this: “He lay in the dark and dank apartment, his hand clawing at his heart.”
He said, she said.
Dialogue is one of the hardest things a writer can do, regardless of how easy it seems. Most people speak all of the time but don’t register the slight nuances that add reality to the characters and their speech. One thing you can do is record a conversation you have with a friend and write it down with every pause and stutter to train yourself how to write a character’s patterns. An example of this is:
‘“Hey, man. Uh, sorry about last night…”
“Oh no, it’s- it’s fine. I know how it goes,” said Marcus.’
Once you’ve finished writing the dialogue, you have a choice between saying things such as ‘asked’ ‘yelled’ and ‘said’. Most professional writers advise you to choose ‘said’ simply because the reader will eventually overlook it as second nature and the text will flow better for it.
Show, Not Tell
When you write a text, imagine you are watching your story as a film. What do you see? Stimulating your reader’s imagination should be your priority and telling them what is happening won’t do that. Here is telling: “The man was drunk when he left the bar.” And this is showing: “The world spun around him as he left the bar. He clung to the stair rail and tried to focus his eyes on the next step.” Which one has you empathising with the character most?
Chunks of description are all well and good when you are in your first draft. They allow you as a writer to create the world you want. However, in the third or fourth draft there should be a minimal amount of description chunks. Readers feel overloaded when they are thrown into a world that has been completely made for them and doesn’t allow them to form their own visions of it. The trick is to slip small clues in when necessary, perhaps a sentence or two here or there.
And adverbs are the enemy. If you can, try using descriptive verbs instead of slamming a random ‘-ly’ word on the end of the sentence. Otherwise it feels lazy and reminds the reader they are reading a book and are not in it.
When creating a main character, you must be careful. A Mary Sue is an author inserting themselves into a text but making them perfect. You should always make your readers conflicted about the motives of the protagonist. Most people hate Mary Sues because they aren’t relatable and are self-centred. There is a pretty solid checklist for spotting a Mary Sue: They have an odd yet highly desirable appearance; they are flirted at (not with) constantly; they can do anything you ask of them perfectly and even their flaws are seen as endearing.
The trick here is to think of you character’s goal before creating them and then layer it from there. An example of this would be: A waitress flirts with customers – To get bigger tips – saving for plastic surgery – for her teenage daughter – who was in a car accident leaving them scarred. Throughout the book, what seems to be a Mary Sue will be chipped at to reveal a dedicated mother who wants her daughter to feel confident again.
So there we are! Five tips that will hopefully help any aspiring writers achieve their full potential. There are plenty more, however.