Writing Equals Passion Plus Thought
Think. Don’t just emote.
This advice runs counter to what you’ll get in many, many writers’ guides, courses, and classes, where you’ll find yourself encouraged to “feel the words” and to “feel what your character feels” and where you’ll hear the words “don’t over-analyze.”
And frankly, this is good advice as far as it goes.
It just doesn’t go far enough.
Writing well enough to sell your work — or even well enough to get your family and friends to enjoy what they read — requires that you know what you’re writing, why you’re writing it, what effect you want to create with your writing, and how you intend to create it.
In other words, you have to think, too. And you have to do it before, during, and after you write your story.
You have a huge number of tools at your disposal for doing this, too many to mention here. (I teach a whole course on this subject: How To Think Sideways.)
But this will get you started. As you’re writing, keep these questions in mind:
- What am I writing?
Love between social classes, a rant against injustice, an adventure with magical overtones, a challenge to readers to reevaluate their stand on _________?
Whatever it is, keep your focus on THAT story, and don’t wander off your theme.
- Why am I writing it?
The big answer here MUST be “because it matters to me,” but beyond that, WHY does it matter to you? Knowing the answer to this will help you keep writing even when the going gets rough.
- What effect do I want to create?
This will change from scene to scene. What emotion do you want to evoke in your reader in THIS scene? You have to first evoke it in yourself.
- How do I intend to create this effect?
This is the art part of writing. What structure will you use, what sorts of words will evoke the emotions you’re working toward, what will you show about your characters, and what will you hide?
Yes, you have to emote too. But THINK while you do it, and watch your story come to life.
In the linked article, I demonstrate thinking my way through an issue, and how that thinking process spreads out to affect not just my life, but my writing. Shoes and Handbags
This is an older article on my site, but it remains as current and true as when I wrote it.