Thursday, January 03, 2008

Roar!



Shauna Roberts at For Love of Words awarded me a Roar for Powerful Words. It asks me to name what I consider the three most important essentials for powerful and effective writing. It’s taken me a while to settle on my answer, but here it is. I’ve taken the liberty of interpreting the question to apply to FICTION writing.

1. Characters. Whether we write about people, horses, ghosts, or Martians, it’s the characters that bring readers to our stories. If the Titanic had gone down in the middle of the Atlantic with no one on board, would we care? No. It’s the human element of that tragedy that has fascinated us for nearly a hundred years now. Stories are not about society balls or explosions or chase scenes; stories are about characters—people (or people-like creatures) facing choices, experiencing emotions, dealing with life. The more powerful our characters, the more powerful our books.

2. Storytelling. “Let me tell you a story…” This is where it all begins, and this is where the power is—in crafting for our characters a series of intertwining events and actions that provoke emotions and intrigue and inspire and delight. I want to tell stories so powerful they’ll stay with my readers long after they’ve closed the pages of my books.

3. Respect. I think this is the single most important aspect of powerful writing—and this applies to all writing, not just fiction writing. Respect for one’s craft, respect for oneself as a writer, but most importantly, respect for one’s readers. This is what drives me to spend days researching an illusive fact, that inspires me to deepen my characters, to polish my prose, to close up my gaping plot holes, to plumb the depths of each scene’s emotional potential. It’s because I respect my readers and my craft that I strive always to avoid the overdone, the hackneyed, the melodramatic; that I don’t let myself take the easy way out, that I always push myself to reach that little bit further.

11 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Great post. I agree with your three choices. Especially like the respect element. All the readers may not care so much that you take that time, but the ones who do are the ones we work for.

Julie said...

Congratulations - and thank you for the three points. Stripped to the essence and laid bare.

Steve Malley said...

Awwww, man! Now I want to change *my* answers...

:)

Great stuff!

Lana Gramlich said...

Congrats on the well deserved accolade! :)

Shauna Roberts said...

Thought-provoking answers.

Do you have a particular person in mind as your reader when you write? Or an archetype of a reader?

cs harris said...

I don't have any particular reader in mind, Shauna. It's just a vast gathering of the many readers I've spoken to over the years or who have written to me, and the hundreds of thousands more I know are out there.

Farrah Rochon said...

I nodded my head at #1 and #2, but #3 blew my mind. All great points!

Sustenance Scout said...

Happy New Year! I'm applying the respect option to myself this year: respect self as a writer who deserves time to write! As soon as the kids get back to school...!

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