"C" represents communicating effectively through your writing. We all want to be understood in life, and communication is necessary for us to function in society. Whether through talk, body language or tone, all of life has a way of communicating. There are three main concepts to help your communication reach the people in it's targeted audience.
1. Content – Imagine a plate in front of you with a thick steak. Your mouth is watering as you grab the knife and fork and slice into it. It flies from the plate to your mouth and you bite into it, only to find out it’s nothing but fat. Disappointed, you don’t finish the steak. That’s how writing without content can be. When you read someone’s writing, you probably don’t want to read three pages of how someone is getting ready to do something, but never actually does it. That’s why content is so important. There are some organizational tips to help with content:
- Know what you are writing about: If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you’ll write in circles and never reach your audience. When in revision, take out your rabbit holes that veer away from your main subject.
- Pre-plan: Make a list, bubble chart or outline of points you intend to cover in your writing. This helps you stay focused on your goal.
- Revise Later: Don’t start revising until after you have written everything you can. During writing, I have stopped for too long to figure out one word and forgot the rest of what I was going to write. When you stumble, just keep going.
- Keep your audience in mind: Knowing who you are writing to and looking at your subject from their perspective will help you reach them. Ask yourself how they would feel, act and what they would say about the subject you are discussing.
2. Style – Your style is unique to your writing. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd. Style is where word use plays its biggest role. When he landed on the moon, Louis Armstrong didn’t say, “we have landed on the moon today!” He made it much more personal than that by referring the success as “a small step for man, a giant step for mankind.” That’s why we still refer to his famous words today. He related his words to all of us. It was his style. Style focuses around three things:
- Words: without the correct words to say what you mean, communication is nothing. Words mean different things to different people. A simple word like “bed” could have different meanings depending on your audience. If you are writing to kids, “bed” could mean something to jump on, which conveys excitement. Or it can mean time to sleep, which most kids dislike, so it would convey frustration. However, to an adult, “bed” most likely means rest, recuperation, the place they probably always want to be. Who you’re writing to will determine the kinds of words you use.
- Fluency: You ever heard that phrase, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” Well, both are important. Content is what you say, but fluency is how you say it. What words do you put together? What kind of rhythm and rhyme do you prefer when smoothly reading text? Fluency is easier to master when you are in the editing phase after putting everything down that you intended to say.
- Voice: Voice is your personality flowing within the text. Do you like telling jokes? Add some into your writing! Are you more the serious type? Let some of that slip out in your writing. Your personality should shine in your work. It’s what makes the work your own!
3. Structure – Structure is one reason why an outline is an important part of writing. Even professional writers use them because they help organize main ideas. That way, characters don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of plot and there’s no broken train of logic. It’s not mandatory, but if you struggle with getting your thoughts and imagination down on paper, it's a good path to follow.
Anyone can be a writer with the proper knowledge. If it helps, attend book clubs, writing seminars, workshops and other useful events to grab some resources on how to become a polished writer. Make connections with other writers who can help hone your writing and appreciate the unique qualities you bring. Writing doesn't have to be a nightmare. Getting started can be as easy as A-B-C!
Cali, Kathleen. "5 Style." Style - The Five Features of Effective Writing. Learn NC, 2003. Web. 07 July 2017.
Francis, Scott. "Six Logical Writing Structures." WritersDigest.com. Writer's Online Workshops, 13 July 2011. Web. 07 July 2017.
Barone, Lisa. "12 Tips for Writing Better Content." Small Business Trends. N.p., 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 July 2017.
Bacon, Francis. "Communication Skills: Writing." Written Communication Skills. The University of Kent, Web. 07 July 2017.
Jack Kerouac once stated, “It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” Every person has their own voice, and finding that voice is the key to achieving your goal of writing. When you combine your writing voice with the images you pay attention to, you will see the empowering experience your work can have in the writing world.
Everyone loves specifics. Would you rather read a sentence like, “She went to the mall and bought some groceries for her mom, who was sick.” Or, would you prefer a sentence like, “Her worn shoes shuffled down the black sea of marked tar towards the double doors. She looked down at them with red eyes, thinking about the splash of spit up from her mother just seconds before. Feeling sorry for the one who always nursed her, she knew she had to get back. She picked up her legs and strode inside the store for the lettuce, chicken and broth her mom asked her to pick up.” See how much more detail there is in the second sentence? The details lie within the images – “worn shoes,” “spit up,” “concrete road,” the list is endless! How these images are put together is your voice. There are endless methods to this, too. To know if you are a natural born writer, ask yourself these questions:
Do you have dreams of adventure while you sleep or daydream?
Many natural writers have dreams they can’t get out of their heads that would be good story ideas. They keep thoughts and ideas about characters or stories, and must write them down on anything they find. But it doesn’t stop there! Ideas and dreams are just the foundation of the details. You can flesh those out as you write your story.
Do you find it hard to put a book down? – Reading sets up the pathway to effective writing because you’ve had exposure to different ideas, images and words. Reading lots of different kinds of books helps your writing skills stay fresh.
Do you love projecting the endings to stories? – Many writers can strategize the endings to stories and movies based on the details or clues within the story. They find enjoyment discovering what the ending will be.
What kinds of ideas stick with you? – Writers often are swimming with ideas more often than they are stuck on writing. My advice would be to write them down, keep tabs on the bits and pieces, and try to work them together.
If these pointers don’t resonate with you, and you don’t feel you are a natural born writer, that doesn’t mean writing isn’t for you! Anyone can be a writer. I’ll be honest – aside from grammar – I think I am just an average writer. But with hard work and determination, I know I can do anything, and so can you! If you want to be a writer, take your reading and writing seriously. Sure, it’s a hobby, but if you want to be a true writer with published books, you’ve got to buckle down and get serious with it. Make reading and writing a regular occurrence in your day-to-day life.
"A" represents acknowledging the nature of the beast. Anyone whose written poetry knows it’s a different kind of animal than novels. Academic writing is different from creative writing. Knowing the difference can really make a difference. It will take time and effort, but it’ll be worth it. Make sure everything is as perfect as possible before sending it off to others.
One of the hardest things to keep in mind when writing is a focus. Keep the "poetry" or "storytelling" mindset if that's what you are writing. Keep it businesslike if you are trying to be professional. Below is a general list of different kinds of writing and their definition:
Academic Writing – This kind of writing involves works such as essays designed to argue or explain a point you are trying to make. Writing about which toothpaste is better for your teeth would be an academic form of writing.
Focus: Be formal and intellectual when writing. Keep words like “you” and “I” out. Logical verbiage is your primary goal – objective and robot-like.
Professional Writing – Also known as technical writing, this form is exactly how it sounds – “professional.” We use it in companies as a form of communication, for speeches and other business documents. Examples of this can be as technical as a business proposition that you have to present to a simple email sent out to business partners.
Focus: People writing professionally tend to be focused on communicating something. People write this way at a job through whatever method of communication is necessary.
Storyteller Writing – This form of writing can be fun, creative and on-a-whim. Storytelling is when you write a story, or provide its summary, to people. You are literally telling a story. This writing is the umbrella over fiction and nonfiction in most cases. Storytelling is much more laid back.
Focus: It revolves around picture moments, where details and visual images surround a plot. It’s more vivid and "actiony." For fiction, the focus is to entertain through a made-up story. Anything goes! You go wherever your mind takes you. For nonfiction, the focus entails real life stories that center around historical or inspirational life. Nonfiction is grounded in other people’s triumphs, failures and other basic life lessons.
Journalism – Journalism is a bit harder in my opinion. Most journalists work for magazines, newspapers or blogging sites. They research ideas or events and interview others in the subject they are writing about. Journalists can write about traveling, author’s experiences, how to do something – the options are endless.
Focus: Journalism involves people and your social interactions with them. There are many kinds of journalism, but all of them involve people in some fashion. So, meeting people and deadlines would be the main focus.
Historical Writing - Historical writing is grounded in the past. It depends completely on facts, unless you are writing historical fiction, an untrue story told in historical times. There is a much shorter leash when working with historical writing because you can’t stray from your path unless you abandon the history within the story. It’s usually effective with very disciplined writers.
Focus: Staying true to the story or times is the most important focus for achieving the proper historical writing you want.
Poetry – Poetry is all about imagery, abstract details, and a sense of rhyme and rhythm in most cases. It’s designed to paint a more powerful picture on a smaller canvas.
Focus: For poetry, your focus is paying attention to every word you use. Your job isn’t to describe every detail and draw out long explanations, it’s to get to the point and quick. That’s why every word is important.
We all want to be successful in life. But let’s get real – there’s only so much you can do with inspiration. Create ways that will help your inspiration stay new and vibrant, yes. Most people start their writing careers from inspiration, and often give up when things aren’t working exactly as they planned, or they just aren’t interested anymore. Make sure you are grounded and committed enough to what you are planning to write that you don’t back out after that drive is gone – that’s when you are ready to write.
Whether writing blogs or stories, each technique is a beast. While talent may be a good asset for beginning a major project, it takes skill and hard work to keep it running. You can’t survive totally on talent. To see more on the perks of talent and skill, read my blog, Skill vs. Talent. If you want to be a success in the writing world, it’s best to own up to the hard work you will need to shell out now before you suffer heartache later on.
Although getting published may be an amiable goal, it should not be the end of your passionate pursuit in writing. Doing what you can to scrape by is not a success trait, so don’t bother being the first in your writing group to get published. In the end, you will be stuck with work that got published for the sake of publishing. You don’t want to look back 10 years from now with regret on your first published work. If you have already felt the sting of not doing your best for your first piece of work, rest assured, you’re not alone. And, everyone makes a rough one here and there. It’s not the end of your career - as long as you learned the valuable lesson for the next book. Not every writer creates a horrible first work, but it happens more often than more writers think. So, before you go any further in the realm of successful writing, be sure you are ready to put forth your best effort.
Learning the A-B-Cs of success in writing can possibly help ease the strain of writing, because let's face it - writing is not easy for everyone. We all have struggles with putting pen to paper at times. But there are methods and ways of thinking that can help take out the trash in your head, clear the brain and hone in a focus on what truly matters at the given moment. That's what the A-B-Cs are all about!
FROM THE WRITER
This is a blog site where tips, information and other help is given to fellow writers in need of a brush up, a tip or a source. Comment, share or just enjoy!