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Make Me Care

Posted by @Publishing_talk on August 7, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Have you ever abandoned reading a book? I think we all have at some point. Do you remember why? Perhaps it was dull, you didn’t like the characters, or it was heavy in detail and you simply lost interest? We can probably all name a popular author whose work we feel we ‘should’ read because of their perceived talent, but truth be told, they left us stone cold.

Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.’

What can that mean to you?

Anyone can write a sentence. The question is, is it worth reading? Words for words’ sake can be tedious. People will spot them for what they are – vanity. Along with your passion for storytelling, select your words carefully for the best possible read. To achieve that, you need to read a lot of books, both good and bad. Not only is it a relaxing pastime, it’s great for the grey matter and for your writing. Pay attention to how other people write and make notes of turns of phrase that interest you. It will help improve your writing. If you haven't done so already, it's worth joining a site like Goodreads for its myriad of user-generated book reviews and recommendations.

If you’re the intellectual type, then readers must be able to understand and appreciate your brilliant literary ideas, those which you have of course taken the time to clearly express. It does not necessarily follow that a degree makes you a good writer; if anything the downside risk is to the other side. Readers want to be able to relate to you and your ideas, not abandon your book in frustration.

Perhaps your aim is to breathe life into your day-to-day observations? Katherine Mansfield, Anton Chekhov and Virginia Woolf were particularly well-known for their ‘slice of life’ writing abilities.

Be sincere

Readers should be able to appreciate your ideas. Being able to convey your ideas in a compelling manner is an art form in its own right, once that requires patience and practice. Some of the best-known writers repeatedly hone their prose to arrive at the best possible word selection. Hemingway was one such. Have you ever noticed that the best ideas are often the most simple?  Being overly descriptive is rather boring; the adjective does not the good book make.


Passion and professionalism

If for some reason you’re not great on some aspect of writing, be it spelling or punctuation, don’t despair. If you have a great story idea and passion that spills on to the pages of your manuscript, count yourself lucky. At the very least you will capture the so-called spirit of your story. This will shine through to readers, and so too to editors. A few commas and typos can be fixed by a professional copy-editor. Let’s face it, if you seriously hope that your manuscript will get published, finding one of those is a must anyway.

Whatever you do, find your true voice, and at all times, aim to engage readers with your best words and simplicity. And always remember these three words: Make Me Care.

May you put your best foot forward,


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Categories: Writing Tips

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