Writing is art. Not the kind displayed in galleries, where patrons reflect on the intentions or musings behind the piece. To view our art, one must crack open a book, turn its pages and allow the artist to take you on a journey through the power of the written word. The writer is an artist. Our canvas is the blank page. With a stroke of our pen or rhythmic taps on keyboards, we paint with words, driven by passion to tell a story. When a writer paints from the heart, readers lose and find themselves within the pages. The content becomes real — a part of the reader, perhaps inspiring action or stirring up memories.
Hopefully, the information below proves helpful to those who share a love and passion for the written word.
1. Stories are everywhere. Ideas are in everything. Writers write and write some more. Just start writing. Don’t get caught up in trying to the write the next great American novel or bestseller. Simply give yourself over to the creative process and write from the heart that which compels.
- Don’t worry about the clean up when you’re writing a section or a scene. Transfer everything that’s playing in your head onto paper or a laptop. Somewhere during this phase, you’ll probably look over your piece and may even consider it worthy of the trash bin since, at present, it doesn’t resemble the literary masterpieces you’ve come to love.
- Writers understand that writing takes time. Allow your canvas to fill up with the basics—ideas and thoughts.
2. For me, once I’ve gotten a scene down, I must go back and begin to flesh it out. This is where I begin to carve out the characters and scene. It is important, as the writer, to paint the picture. Whatever you imagine in your mind, the reader should be able to recreate a similar image from what you’ve written.
- Not every detail of a leaf is necessary when it’s not the focal point of the scene or story. However, if detailing the leaf illustrates a character lost in thought or an artist’s keen eye for detail, perhaps an in-depth description is of importance.
- Details add dimension to your canvas. Paint with sharp or subtle contrasting strokes to evoke a sentiment or emotion.
3. Dialogue is key. How the characters communicate is just as important as the setting, if not more. Their interactions, vocal inflictions, little nuances that are specific to them add dimension and depth. Adding these elements heightens character awareness.
- Visualize and act out some of the conversations. Make the conversation real. So real, the reader feels as if they’re overhearing or eavesdropping on a private conversation.
- Conversation adds color to your canvas. Paint with a vivid palette and watch your canvas come to life.
4. Edit, edit and edit some more. You’ve finished your piece and are ready to shout, dance and jump for joy. Do all of those things, but recognize you are far from done. Your writing is nowhere near the masterpiece it can be and will be without proper editing.
- Masterpieces take time to develop. Editing is where extraordinary things happen. To me, this is where creativity truly kicks in. You’ve gotten the story down, cleaned portions of it as you wrote, but now you it’s time to switch hats and become more critical of your piece. I can easily spend double the amount of time it took the write the piece in editing it. This is a potentially never-ending process, yet the most important.
- Before you display your work, consider seeking the services of an editor. Their objective eye can provide insight into making your piece something truly unique.
Masterpieces are created, birthed from a thought and guided by ideas. Don’t rush the steps; don’t rush the process. Readers deserve great stories. How about we paint a few for them?
*Originally a guest blog featured in October 2011.