Friday, August 17, 2007

Writer's envy...

By Lonnie Cruse

Ever read a book by an author you admire and wish you could write like that? Wish you had the same way with words? Wish you could make readers laugh or cry that easily? Remember a scene you wrote years later? Me, too. Sigh.

All authors have different “voices.” And no matter that the book jacket says, “Writes like Shakespeare,” or “Will put you in mind of Hemingway,” we’re all different. All unique. Nobody really writes like anyone else, even when covering the same subject. But there are ways to develop our talent, polish our prose, and improve our writing, taking it to a much higher level. Maybe as good or better than our favorite authors? Maybe.

One way to improve our writing is by taking classes, either online or by attending workshops in person. Another is to read what other writers have to say on the subject, and there are dozens of how-to books on writing, editing, pitching, selling, and getting a manuscript published. Working with other writers in a critique group situation is also an excellent learning tool.

But possibly one of the best ways to improve our craft is to study the fiction of the writers we admire. What is it in their books that makes us laugh, or cry, or remember a particular scene forever? How does the author present a setting or a character? Has the author done his/her homework about real life facts? Are there any “speed bumps” that pulled us out of the story, and if so, how would we avoid writing them?

Studying how a favorite author pulls us into their story and keeps us there until we reach the last page, probably slightly worn out from the ride and definitely wanting more, will help us learn how to do the same in our own writing.

War and Peace, anyone?

1 comment:

Sandra Parshall said...

I learn something from every book I read -- even if I hate it. I've learned more about creating suspense from reading Tess Gerritsen, Thomas Cook and Ruth Rendell than I could ever learn from reading a how-to book. They inspire me to push my own writing to a higher level.