I had the pleasure on reviewing Marlo Schalesky’s book ONLY THE WIND REMEMBERS a couple of years ago and fell in love with her rich descriptions and fascinating story. Today, Marlo shares her thoughts on good writing with us. Don’t forget to see how you can win one of her books at the end of her post.
The Essence of Good Writing
By Marlo Schalesky
Here I am, staring at the empty page, ready to start my newest novel. Of course, everything I write today seems like junk. And so I must ask the question of myself again – what is good writing anyway? What makes me say, “Wow, that was good!” when I finish reading a book?
Is it fine metaphors, a clever turn of phrase? Or perhaps it’s just the right verb used in just the right place? While I love metaphors and the right choice of words, these aren’t the things that make writing transcend the ordinary to become truly good writing.
Good writing, I have come to realize, is writing that gets out of the way and allows the reader to live the story, to experience the story from inside the characters’ point of view. Good writing transports the reader in someone else’s mind, heart, life. It’s all about seeing what someone else sees, feeling what they feel, living the story with the point of view character.
That’s why good writing lets the reader interact with the story in a way that’s natural, that’s true to real life. We don’t want to switch point of view from one character to another and back again in the middle of a scene because as people we don’t “head-hop” in our normal lives. We try to eliminate speaker attributes such as “he said/she said” because in normal life there are no “said’s” – instead we watch people as they speak. They fold their arms, or scratch their nose, or look away. That’s how we normally engage in conversation – reading body language as much as we hear words. And that, of course, is why good writing shows and doesn’t tell – because that’s how we operate in our everyday lives. Someone comes in the room and slams the door – we know they’re angry. They don’t announce they’re angry, they show us. It’s no different in good writing.
So, next time you want to write something good, remember that it isn’t about words and rules, it’s about helping the reader to live the story, to interact with your characters in the same way that they interact in their normal, everyday lives.
And when you get a chance, pick up my latest novel, Veil of Fire, and see which character you like to live in the most. The mother who lost her daughter in the greatest fire in Minnesota history? The farmer who saw his wife enveloped in flame? Or the mystery character, burned beyond recognition, hurt and hurting, living as a hermit in the hills? And maybe you’ll be able to guess, just by living in the hermit’s skin, who that person really is. Or maybe you’ll be as surprised as I was.
To find out more about Marlo’s books, including her latest release, VEIL OF FIRE, visit her website at www.marloschalesky.com. Or to order on amazon, visit www.amazon.com.
Marlo, your newest book has me intrigued. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for your terrific post. You’ve given us some good tips on making our writing better.
If you haven’t read any of Marlo’s books, I suggest you pick one up today and settle in for a great read.
There is also an interview and contest where you can have a chance at winning Marlo’s book over on Deborah M. Piccurelli’s website. Check it out and enter to win.