Friday, January 23, 2009

Style and Sophistication in Writing

How to keep your writing sophisticated and have others label your work as professional depends on your style, i.e. what techniques you use to create. It goes without saying (but I will anyway) that certain ones work well, but often only in certain situations. Let's consider poetry. The use of flowery, descriptive words, metaphors, similes, etc. fit nicely here. However, take that language and put it in a crime novel and it would sound totally out of place. If you are the poet, but want to write mysteries, watch your language! So, if the guy with the gun, ready to murder his cheating wife is in the middle of a heated dialog, it would not be wise to describe how his angry eyes are like "shining, blue sapphire jewels". In fact, the frequent use of similes and metaphors tends to pull the story away from the events. Remember, you are here to tell a story, the plot must be developed, and you should not be taking any detours that make you forget where you are supposed to be. Other stylistic devices such as words in italics, exclamation points, words in parentheses, frequent use of -ly adverbs, these, too distract. And let's face it...writing with all those bells and whistles implies you are insecure and trying too hard. You don't need to shove your writing in the reader's face to get his attention. If you write a great story, attend to the events, that will attract readers. To study this further, take a look at some of your favorite authors' work, but don't focus so much on the story. Rather, study their styles of writing, pay close attention to how they phrase, the descriptive words they use, etc. Let me know if you find very many of those stylistic detractors. And I'd be curious to know your thoughts about this. As writers, how hard is it for you to avoid these mistakes?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Are You a Graphomaniac?

First of all....Happy New Year to everyone. Obviously, one of my resolutions wasn't to post regularly to my blog...heh hmmm..... Lots going on, etc., etc.... Okay, on to the topic of my choice. Do you suffer from graphomania? I'm not talking about the purely medical definition here, where one writes continuous strings of words that when read, well, are just plain old nonsense. This refers to the layman's description. Do you have the compulsion to write -- constantly, obsessively, passionately -- someone insanely driven, and it's as if you can't get enough?

I thought about this for a brief minute, trying to decide on my own habits, and came up with a "no". I decided this based on the fact that I can go weeks without moving forward on a project or delving into a new idea for one. Oh, I will think about doing it, but just don't. Then there will be times when I am in overdrive, blathering on and on in the written word, as if some spell has taken possession of my hand and won't let me stop writing! Rather like the girl in the children's story about the dancing slippers -- only with hands, not feet, of course :-). But I'm not the one to claim writing takes up almost every waking moment of my day. That said, it brought me to another thought.

How many authors, especially great ones, past and present, could be labeled as graphomaniacs? It's an interesting question, I think. What is your opinion? And do you consider yourself afflicted with graphomania? Let's hear your thoughts.