By Rhonda Strehlow
Writers have a love/hate relationship with word count. Am I writing a novel? Short story? Flash fiction?
What’s my genre? Mystery. Romance. Action. Suspense. Poetry. Memoir.
Where do I fit?
We get stymied by unimportant details.
More important than word count or genre is making your words count. Lately useless words have been irritating me. Some. Almost. About. Filler words. Check them out when you read your next book. Notice that they don’t add anything to the story. They are a distraction. Eliminate them from your writing. Or, at least use them purposefully.
Write like we’re in this together.
Use words that evoke strong emotions. Cringed with fear. Bubbled with excitement. Cried until he collapsed.
Use imaginative action words. Walked is boring. Raced. Stumbled. Hobbled. Skipped. Danced. All better words.
Some of your words should stretch the comfort zone of your readers. One reader told me she had to look up two words in one of my books. I challenged her to use them the next time we met.
Make your descriptions memorable. Not, “She picked a flower.” Instead, “She reached for the most stunning hydrangea on the bush of a hundred beautiful flowers.”
End each chapter with images so powerful the reader stops to process what he’s just read.
Challenge your readers. If readers don’t come away even a bit changed, a little more educated, after reading our books, have we done our jobs?
I’m disappointed when I read a book and think, that was a nice book. And, then promptly forget it. (I’m old. I don’t have time for nice.) I’d rather my reaction be, ‘Tell me there’s a sequel!’