In the beginning of a writing education, most people question if they are depicting what they perceive in the imagination and communicating clearly to a reader. Frankly, that concern should never go away. When you are worried about it you will pay attention to the concept. When you take it for granted, you will perpetually short-change your reader. I preach that writers should never grow too confident to pay attention to the fundamentals.
Language is a writer’s basic tool of communication. We learn rules of grammar and spelling in order to communicate clearly. But, oh there is a phenomenal wide world of variety beyond those elementary school rules that can turn the craftsman into a master artist.
Some people have a natural talent for sarcasm or wittiness, for humor, for simplifying or enhancing comprehension. Their thought patterns just work that way. It is possible for the word craftsman to learn how to deliberately, thoughtfully manipulate language beyond the fundamentals. His or her writing can move to a whole new level that is both simple and complex. Learning and practice can smoothly incorporate more sophisticated literary tools into anyone’s creative writing.
That idea of “smooth incorporation” means the writer who wants to move beyond fundamentals must understand the purpose and techniques of a variety of language tools.
In my course “FICTION’S LITERARY TOOLS” I present some of the most common tools such as emphasizers and de-emphasizers, all forms of passive vs. active voice, artful transitions, symbolism & innuendo, diction & syntax (in style AND dialogue), the art of suspense, weaving of irony-paradox-satire, pacing concepts, power vs. simple words, expansion & reduction. As in all my courses, I discuss meaning and practical application then challenge the participants to put the concepts to work.
The desire to improve one’s ability to communicate is a seductive force for the person who is driven to write quality fiction. With the vast array of written material circulating the world here in the 21st century, it is all too easy to get lost in the herd. I believe a command and the use of more complex literary tools makes any writer more memorable than the simplistic storyteller. The key is to be subtle in how you manipulate the reader’s mental processes. That means the writer must never patronize but challenge the reader’s perceptions. When that is done smoothly through repeated us of various literary tools, the writing satisfaction shifts to a higher level. The more you use the tools, the more you will want to use them. The more you use them the more they will naturally, habitually weave into your writing process.
The discipline of careful language orchestration with a variety of literary tools can become a profound creative experience that moves the “work” of writing into the obsessive, much-sought-after joy of writing. It is an incredible no-brag-just-fact “high” to read something you have written, blink and say “Wow, I can’t believe I did that! That’s really good.” Trust me that learning how to use literary tools will give you that experience.
I will be teaching “Fiction’s Literary Tools July 11-August 7 for Savvy Authors. Check out the on-line workshop and consider signing up.
Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines for 10 years. With 30 screenplays written, one going into production in 2016, several under negotiation at three different studios and two novel-to-screenplay adaptations on her plate, Sally has a well-respected manager representing her in Hollywood. In addition to long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she was president of a state-wide writers organization 2007-2011. She keeps to a strenuous writing schedule and still has time to work as Editorial Director for The Fiction Works, supervising acquisitions and sub-contracted editors, as well as Script Supervisor for material sent to TFW’s affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 29 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE. For more information on her works and classes go to her website at http://www.sallyjwalker.com