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Roaring Writers January 12, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in networking, writing/editing/blogging.
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As writers, we’re often perceived (by non writers) as the quiet introverted types, huddled away at our laptops feverishly working on our manuscripts—what we hope will be the next Great American novel, a New York Times best-selling non-fiction manuscript, a Pulitzer Prize-winning article, screenplay…whatever. Ah, but no…writers know that’s not the case, we’re actually a very social bunch, bouncing ideas, sharing with one another, helping each other to navigate the world of a writer’s life.  And as the WGA strike continues—various side deals being made aside—the world is learning that writers are far from introverted and quiet. In fact, we roar. And as such, I am the lucky recipient of the Roar for Powerful Words award, given to me by Michele at Writing the Cyber Highway.  Okay, so I don’t get to thank the Academy, but I also won’t be cut off by the studio orchestra striking up the “your-speech-is-too-long” music. I do get to share some very specific writing tips with my readers and since all blog-memes come with a price, I get to tag five others with this award….but you will have to read to the end to find out who.

But first, the rules:

  1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
  2. List three things that you believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.
  3. Tag five others and comment at their blog informing them that they’ve been tagged with this award: 
roar.jpg

Three things I think are necessary to make writing good and powerful:

1.  Regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, write from your heart.
I really think that it is important to be passionate about your subject matter or genre. This is even true for journalism. When a writer’s heart isn’t in it, or they cannot generate excitement for themselves about a topic, the writing becomes flat, and it shows. (And there’s no amount of editing that can correct dispassionate writing in my opinion.) 

2. Choose your words wisely.
This probably sounds obvious, but it means selecting the best words and phrases to create a rich and compelling visual image. That doesn’t necessarily mean using long phrases or big words, but it does mean choosing your words much in the same way that a painter chooses pigments and a medium. Water color and tempera look different than oil, all three look different than alkyd. Words and word choices have the same value for writers. Words are our paints, paper (or cyberspace) our canvases. And while the cliché has been overused that “a picture paints a thousand words,” there are millions to describe something, and only one combination of those words will present the imagery that you want to express exactly as you envision it.  (I’ll stop, before the geek in me starts talking about math and factorials as they relate to words. Dad would be proud.) 

3. Write in the active voice.
(Uh oh, she’s talking about grammar. Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.) Using the active voice is more powerful than using the passive voice. In short, the active voice is a sentence where the subject is doing the action—the noun verbs. In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the action—the subject is verbed by a noun. (Notice how I used the passive voice for the first part of that last sentence.)  To turn the earlier sentence into the active voice, it would be “In the passive voice, the action acts upon the subject. Get it? For an excellent and more thorough description of the active voice versus the passive voice, see the Grammar Girl.  While there are times when the passive voice may be better to use, the active voice is stronger because it is less vague. The passive voice can also lead to other issues, such as awkward phrases and run-on sentences. While it may feel more colorful to write in the passive voice, if you’re searching for colorful, go back to my second tip. 

Now that I’ve shared my three tips, I will name the five that I have tagged. I decided to spread the love and not do the usual suspects (you know who you are). 

First, I tag Writer Mama, Christina Katz at Writer Mama Riffs who will have some esteemed wisdom to share, Jenn Hollowell* (as if Jenn doesn’t already have enough to do), Kate at Finding Boddie, because…well…payback sucks (I imagine that the delightful Donna Duck will be being tagged by many at AW after her general tag to us all for the Christmas meme, but I also know that she will have some delicious wisdom to impart in the most humorous of ways), Jen Gnaideki at Beyond Mom, because I know she’ll have something awesome and pithy to say, and finally (but not least) Limitedtimewriter at Mama Needs a Book Contract who will also, no doubt, have something to roar about.

(*Corrected misspelling…so sorry Jenn! :o)

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Comments

1. Michele L. Tune - Writing the Cyber Highway - January 13, 2008

You’ve done a great job, Erika! I love your tips. I think writing from the heart is soooooooooo important.It can sometimes be hard to choose the perfect word, but you’re right. We should choose them wisely. As for active and passive voice, the active voice does pack a powerful punch, doesn’t it?

I also love how you included the WGA strike. They really are roaring!

Thanks for participating!

2. Jenn - January 13, 2008

This is the first time I’ve ever been tagged! 🙂 Ahem – Jenn HOLLOWELL. 😉 hee hee Okay, running off to play with this meme in my blog now! 🙂

3. Carolyn - January 13, 2008

I loved your advice about good, powerful writing. I’m going to have to think on this one.

But “Choose Your Words Wisely” is my slogan. And you’ve done gone and choosed it for your meme. ;-D

Carolyn

p.s. So we can use the picture in our post?

4. Kate Boddie - January 14, 2008

Woohoo! First award! Eh, this one isn’t so bad to do but dur my dumb ass for taking me this long to actually find this. I went to your profile and down to the blog listed and nothing and was like WTF? Think I clicked on your website? No. Yeah, I’m a dumbass. I shall get to this in the next day or too. I got an award! I don’t care if it is part of a meme!


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