For example, stay away from passive voice and utilize active voice. What sounds better to you?
She was running away from him.
Her heart pounded rapidly and the hair on the nape of her neck stood up as she ran from the intruder.
When your characters are going through an emotional struggle, how do you portray that? You’ve heard the saying, show don’t tell, well it is extremely important to let your readers in on what is going on in your character’s mind. When writing a scene, you must only write from his or her perspective. For example, what does your character see, hear, taste, smell or feel. In one scene, you cannot jump from two different characters’ points of view. It confuses readers and does not make for a complete picture of who your character really is.
What sounds better to you?
Someone approached his desk but he focused on the file in his hands. When he glanced up, he saw her standing in front of him.
Marc Abrams heard someone wearing heels approach his desk, but he ignored the intrusion and focused on the file in his hands—until he smelled the familiar scent of jasmine and roses. Not wanting to get his hopes up, he glanced over and there she stood. She looked like a tall drink of water in the desert, with her slender physique and shiny hair and piercing eyes.
The first section tells what happens but doesn’t let the reader experience what Marc experienced. When you read the second section, you are right there with Marc as he heard someone approach and then smelled her perfume. You feel his excitement, hoping it’s her. Then you get to see how much this person affects him.
Telling a good story is also about writing compelling, believable dialogue. You need to write how the character would actually speak. Not everyone speaks in correct English. Make your dialogue become a work of art.
(This is an excerpt from my current WIP, Bella Lucia.)
She smiled. “You know, you always make me feel better.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Really, because that’s not the impression I’ve gotten from our last few encounters. I thought you couldn’t stand me.”
“You’ve grown on me.”
That brought uproarious laughter from him and his nervousness eased up a little. “Oh, like a fungus, easy to get and hard to get rid of—those words hurt, you know.”
The way she scrunched up her nose, endeared her further to him. “You remembered that, huh?”
“It’s not every day that a woman calls me a fungus!”
“You’re not like a fungus, just a little annoying at first.”
They settled down on the rock wall in front of the police station. “Ok, I can deal with that. I know my partner thinks I’m annoying too, but he has his own issues.”
“Don’t we all?” The distracted look came over her face again and he took serious note of it. Before he could ask what was on her mind, she shared her concerns. “I think my boss is keeping something from me.”
Remember to also keep your facts straight. Do your research. Readers don’t like to read a book that is full of mistakes. Don’t repeat the same word a lot in your paragraphs. Just try to remember all of these rules to make your story come alive and have fun. Write and write and write and then don’t put editing on the backburner. Editing is essential to putting your best work out there.
What is one of the best books you’ve read lately? Please feel free to comment and you’ll be entered in a contest to win a copy of my eBook, Mr. Shipley’s Governess. The winner will be announced on my blog this Friday, 3/25/11.