by Beth K. Vogt
Let’s talk about one way to improve your writing. One tip. Two words:
That’s it. Want to be a better writer? Slow down.
How does slowing down improve your writing? Consider these three examples:
I’m a huge fan of fast drafting my manuscript – writing with forward motion, internal editor turned off, and with the intent of discovering the story and falling in love with my characters. However, before I fast draft, I slow down long enough to:
- Plot my story so I have some sort of road map to follow – I write out a detailed synopsis and then I also tell myself the story. “Telling myself the story” is more relaxed than writing a synopsis. I don’t worry that my editor or agent or publisher is going to read this – because they won’t. I just talk the story out on paper.
- Gather basic details for my scenes – I figure out the POV character’s main emotion and I also list the 5 Senses (what my main POV character could see, hear, taste, smell, touch during the scene). Doing this gives me some specifics to weave into my scene.
Another way you slow down your writing is by not rushing the key action in a scene.
Let’s talk about kissing. Nobody likes to rush a real kiss – not a good one, anyway – so why rush a fictional one? I’m not talking about being graphic or writing unsavory details. I am talking about creating an emotional connection between your characters – and thus creating an emotional connection with your readers – by slowing down and writing a focused, compelling kissing scene. Or a focused, compelling crime scene. Or a focused, compelling first view of a fantasy world.
Once again, you have to slow down and think particulars. Ask: What would my main character notice? What kind of symbol or metaphor could you thread through the scene? Donald Maass’ Freeze Frame technique, which requires you stop and start a scene five different times and focus on what the POV character is doing, seeing, and feeling each time is a great way to slow down your writing.
One last way you can become a better writer by slowing down? Take the time to look at the beginnings and the endings of your scenes. We often talk about the opening lines of our books and we craft our closing lines with equal care. Take that same attention to detail and slow down and laser in on your opening sentences and your closing sentences in each of your scenes. Yep. Every single scene. Ask yourself two simple questions:
- Does the opening sentence of this scene hook my reader?
- Does the last sentence of this scene compel my reader to keep reading?
You may be thinking you’re too busy to slow down as a writer. Why not pick just one of these ways to slow down your writing:
- Prep your writing before you fast draft
- Avoid rushing the key action of your scene
- Examine the first and last sentences of your scenes
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A Christy Award winner, as well as an ACFW Carol Award winner, Beth is the author of nine contemporary romance novels and novellas. Her first women’s fiction novel, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers.