I asked for feedback on a few pieces recently, and the advice I received said the same thing in so many words. “Dig Deeper.” These are wonderful writers, and I value their insight. I am not a whiner….
Okay, maybe I whined once, to my better half. He raised his eyebrows and said,”Sounds like you have work to do.” He’s a great guy, and in the end I’m always glad he doesn’t coddle.
two five Cadbury Eggs, and sucked it up. I took a moment to review all the awesome things they said about my writing, then I read the suggestions for change once again.
Dig deeper. Go further. Clarify.
Sometimes, writing feels like one of those bad dreams in which you show up naked to school. For a moment, I felt like I’d gone to an excavation without my heavy-duty shovel. Instead, I brought along my mincing, passive, plant-the-tulips spade. Whoops. Color me embarrassed.
But I’m a corn-fed midwestern girl. I know how to roll up my sleeves and put on my big boots when the manure gets deep. I took a hot bath to wash off the malodor of self-gratification and soak in my main character’s motivations and back story.
I love my fellow writers and I imagine at least one of you are in the position of standing knee-deep in the crud of revisions(It’s okay. I checked around and revisions are like that.) and realize your tools just aren’t enough. Take a deep breath, bring your shovel, and continue reading.
10 Tips For Getting Dirty:
1. Ask lots of questions. First, ask them of yourself. Why is this story important to you? Is it still important? Often, which is my case, we have trouble connecting to our characters. Interview them. What impact does your main character have on other characters in the story? This is a biggie. There should be a contingency of influence.
2. Writing prompts are gold. An image may be the conduit to better understanding of not only characters, but theme and voice. Many writers use photos of models, actors, etc. who resemble their protagonist.
3. Write a scene from a different point-of-view. Give someone else the reigns, a voice. They may illuminate a few grey areas.
4. Read within your genre. But read critically. Another author may have had a similar problem. How did they handle it?
5. Create back story. This doesn’t need to go in your book, but the connection is worth the time.
6. Write it out. I’m a free-writing junkie. But the act of writing(and not just revising, editing, etc.)alone reminds me why I put my knee-high waders on in the first place. This also helps to organize your various tools, make room for the heavy-duty shovel.
7. Character sketches aren’t for pansies. Does the reader care that Evie likes the color purple and her favorite band is Deathcab For Cutie? Maybe not so much, but this is like back story. It’s another opportunity for your sub-conscious to wrap itself around the world you’ve created.
8. Focus on what you’ve done right and write to your strengths. Sometimes, we just need to build a little muscle before we play with the big boys.
9. Step outside of your comfort zone. This one gives me the willies. Give me a Snuggie and a box of chocolate covered cherries. I like comfort. But change is good, and fun. If you’re a plotter, try pantsing. Vice versa. Or start small-if you write at home at your desk everyday, grab a notebook and head to the park. Then there are the lovely bits I call “creative rest.” Pick up a craft book, or watch a movie you’ve never considered.
10. Get personal. This is the part where I forgot to put clothes on, much less pack my utility belt. I wrote about subject matter close to my heart, but I backed off. Readers know when you’re hiding something. My readers did. I’ve changed my perspective. I’ve mapped the terrain, and it’s not a scary place. Think of it more like a seductive veil dance. Find your rhythm and be unafraid of what’s underneath. Everyone has vulnerabilities. Sharing them is not a sign of feebleness.
How do you unearth your booty of unwritten gold? Do you use any of the aforementioned tips? And please, share your experiences from the mining shafts.