Does Your Writing Have Energy?

May 10, 2011

Every city has its own rhythm, its own special energy, something that defines it, gives it breath, makes it move. Like music, there are layers. The percussion section sets the pace, keeping things on track in motion. Keyboards lay a background and add melody. Guitars add energy and vibrancy. Singers tell the story…well, all of it is necessary to tell the story. In each city there are layers, different worlds going on that harmonize to tell the story. Transportation, financial and political layers set a pace, climate and environment give it a background and a certain feel, local arts, fashion and culture add energy, vibrancy and tell a story.

When I read a book I want to be immersed in the environment of the characters. I want to feel the pace of their lives, feel the culture and the energy of their world. Naturally I want my fiction writing to have layers and dimension.

In my non-fiction writing I wanted energy, pace and vibrancy, but really just one world, limited to the topic of my article. Oh, don’t get me wrong. You need dimension in non-fiction writing, but in a 3,000-word article about a single topic there is much less depth.

By middle school we learn that active verbs give writing energy, but it takes more than just the use of active verbs to add life to a story. It’s also about something harder to define, choosing words with dimension, writing sentences that flow and letting the story develop its own shape with your gentle guidance…..kind of like a potter who spins a wheel and allows the clay to form a shape while still gently crafting it with artist’s hands.

So far, I’ve only let my husband read my work. He’s not a writer, and other than my work and passages that I read to him from my favorite books, he’s not really a romance reader, but he does know when the story becomes real to him. He tells me where it flows and where it falls flat, where I catch him by surprise and where I’ve just plain lost him. Sometimes he can feel the rhythm of the world I’m creating and the dimension of the characters, and then there are times when he hands pages back to me and says, “I don’t get it. This doesn’t work.”

Usually, I already know where my story is lacking, but defining the problem isn’t always so easy. Sometimes it’s just a matter of my own life distracting me from the world where my heroine lives. I have to let go of my own world, and let the story take shape, gently crafting with my pen.

How do you separate your world from the world in your story? Can you define what breathes life and energy into your work or your favorite author’s work?


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