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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Transparent Writing

Three recent activities birthed my title revelation.  One, watching New Year's Eve (2012 movie).  Two, reading How-To articles/books about my craft.  Three, analyzing this great quotation from This Means War (another 2012 movie):
Don't choose the better man; choose the man who makes you a better woman.
Chelsea Handler delivered this wonderful line playing the best friend character named Trish.

And I found "transparent writing" in all three examples.  A refreshing frankness.


The first-mentioned movie, New Year's Eve, hit me two ways.  As a viewer, its sad scenes surprised me.  But as an author, it spoke to me about transparency in writing through two characters:  the sous chef, played by the beautiful Columbian actress Sofia Vergara, who stole the show due to her honest revealing of her character in each of her scenes.  And the backup singer, played by Lea Michelle Sarfati, portraying both a vibrant personality paired with living her life's purpose, which engage alone but together . . . a double hitter.


For the second, I study daily the art of creative writing via manifold forums.  Online articles, blog posts, newsletters, writing classes, shared insights from my fellow authors, movies, fiction, nonfiction, poems, quotations, the Bible, etc.  I inhale so many words and pages, sometimes finding the instigating reference becomes a major search among all my sources within any twenty-four-hour period.

Regardless, if you decided to be an author even one month ago, you already know the supposed rules:
  • write fresh,
  • show don't tell, 
  • avoid clichés
  • choose strong concrete nouns,
  • use action verbs,
  • avoid To Be verbs, 
  • avoid adverbs ending in LY
  • cut out half of your adjectives, 
  • stick with dialogue tags "he said/she said" or substitute action lines to define the speaker, 
  • write what you know, 
  • use hooks, 
  • don't "walk the dog," 
  • cut useless words, 
  • write with clarity, 
  • sprinkle in backstory,
  • avoid info dump,
  • avoid too much description in one place by spreading it out,
  • avoid repetitions, 
  • use rhetorical devices and 
  • other items ad infinitum. 

Write fresh.

Remember that above all else.

As a reader, I get tired of seeing the same old body movements to evoke emotions.  As a novelist, I'm determined to avoid hands fisting, eyes gazing, arms pumping, face scrubbing, hands run through the hair.  None are bad.  They just show up too much.

I want to be different.

Our thoughts--now those would tend to be unique.  Just like you are set apart from your siblings, yet all shared the same genes, household, geographic area, social tier, money strata, educational system, right?  Can you tell what they are thinking?  No.  Believe me, I don't want to know every thought.

Just some.

From select individuals.

Reading gives us glimpses into the minds of others.  The mind of Hannibal Lecter scares me too much to consider watching the movie, when the trailer alone became TMI.

Yet haven't you ever said, "I wish guys/people were marked"?  I know I have.  In fact that line may appear almost verbatim in my debut novel.  Because what we see is not always what we get.  Correct?

Our uniqueness of thought is each author's "write fresh."  We don't realize it, labeling our life "dull and boring."  It is not.  Share yours.

You know those conflicting thoughts, those mental arguments you have with yourself?  Write them down.  They may become very useful in a future novel or a current WIP.

I love the psychological elements to stories anyway.  I so admire Nora Roberts's male insights.  I truly envy J.D. Robb's clarity and conciseness.  She reveals so much with minimum wordage.

Have you ever had your spouse or your children stare at you in silence?  Didn't you wonder what they were thinking?  Those insights evolve into the "write fresh" needed on paper.

Now "write fresh" comes in differing levels. Compose where you feel most comfortable, meanwhile pushing those outer boundaries.


The This Means War quote.  It confuses and confirms simultaneously.  It explains why you see a happily married couple of decades yet they don't "fit" to an outside observer.  Because strangers only have the physical to analyze, not being privy to the couple's personalities, ideals, goals, histories, even their professions.  So we go by what we see.  Is she pretty?  Is he pretty?  Then they should live HEA.  In books, yes.  In life, I wish.

Somehow these lucky marriages last long-term.  I maintain because each partner exchanged transparency.

Love remains ethereal.  We cannot box it up--no matter how often we try.  Love entails feelings, emotions, morals, core elements, belonging, acceptance, memories, dreams, plus more mysteries and surprises.  However,  I assert those intangibles can partially become real via putting our thoughts into words.

Yes, while our characters circle the room or get that cup of coffee or slam the door in our novels.  We do need to incorporate action with emotions, thoughts.  I propose that, if our psyche reveals a surprising yet universal idea, maybe we can get away with one more fisting of the hands when offset by our fresh writing.

As always, take what resonates, toss the rest--and keep on writing!

Denise Barker, author + blogger +
Freelance Copy Editor, http://bit.ly/freelanceCE
Good Ole Boys, a love story at http://amzn.to/GoodOleBoys

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