There are many ways to amp up your writing. But this first technique will surely do the trick. Today I will share with you three secrets that you may not know.
The first technique I guarantee you’ve read many times in hugely successful novels, but might not have realized that you’ve seen it.
A while back I read a post about this on Writers’ Village, one of my favorite blogs, and I’ve been meaning to write a post myself because this technique is such a great way to let your writing stand above the rest. For those of you going traditional you need every advantage to climb out of that slush pile. And for those of you going Indie you want your readers to come back again and again. This technique will help you do that.
We all want our characters to come alive on the page, to suck our readers into the story so completely that they can’t possibly put our book down. How do we do that? One way is to write your narrative as though the POV is telling the tale. Now I know what you’re thinking… ‘No kidding, genius.’ But stay with me here a minute. I promise it gets better. Note: this technique can be used for any POV.
We all try to encapsulate our character’s voice in dialogue, but you need to do that in your narrative as well to really make it believable.
Let’s use an example. Say your character is a deep thinker or a poet. When you write the narrative for her you’d want to show the world around her in colorful prose, because that is how SHE sees the world. You want to choose words and phrases that SHE would use. You want your narrative to reflect HER mindset.
Another character might have had a hard life and only see the bad in people. Of course you’ll have her change throughout the story to show her emotional growth, right? Right. So at the beginning of the story she might see gloomy clouds where others see a bright sun. She might see the branches on a young birch tree as skeletal fingers, or use words like contorted. As she transforms she begins to see a glimmer of hope in the things around her. Perhaps she hears a bird sing or beautiful fall leaves, depending on your milieu. Toward the end of the story the world she sees is bright and happy because of her new outlook on life.
Birds soared overhead, singing their songs of delight, their wings outstretched like angels. Tree frogs chirped in the canopy of oak, maple and ash, welcoming the day. And children’s laughter filled the streets.
Same with your analogies/similes. They must fit that POV character. Which brings me to the second technique. Your analogies/similes must fit the situation as well as the character. For instance, in my new novel MARRED at one of the crime scenes there is a letter H written in blood on the front window. Because the H was at a crime scene and my POV for that scene was a sheriff, I said, “The letter H was dripping blood like a severed throat.”
Now when his wife saw the same picture she saw it completely different. Not as a severed throat, but as though someone had drawn it with their finger because she is very literal.
See what I mean? Two different characters. Two different views on the things around them.
I like to alternate POVs in my work. In Timber Point, and the books in that series, I showed my protagonist, the detective and the antagonist. All three saw the world differently. In MARRED I had dueling protagonists– a writer and her sheriff husband– as well as a deputy sheriff– a rough around the edges type of gal– as a POV character. I put all three characters in the same room and none of them saw the same thing. Sure, they all saw a couch or a table, but it’s HOW they saw these things that made the difference.
And here is the third tip, because in writing the rule of three often applies. Whatever you do don’t use rhetorical questions in your writing. It is the mark of an amateur. Instead, rewrite those rhetoricals as sentences.
Rhetorical: Why didn’t I see that coming?
Change to: Why I didn’t see that coming remained a mystery to me.
Rhetorical: Did she have this all wrong? Was he coming for her next?
Change to: Perhaps she had this all wrong, and she prayed she wasn’t next on his hit list.
Much smoother, right? Hey, don’t take my word for it. Pick up any hugely successful novel and try to find one rhetorical question. I bet you won’t find any. Why? Because rhetorical questions pull the reader out of the story.
And that’s it. If you have any questions or comments please let me hear from you. I’m always interested in what you have to say.
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