In an earlier post, “Use all six senses to make your story come alive,” I write about the importance of using all our senses when creating a scene. Too often, writers rely on sight or visual cues in the scene and forget to include the other senses.
Touch, sound, taste, and smell are just as important as sight, yet are often overlooked.
What senses do you use the most in your writing?
Find out by taking a chapter and highlighting the five senses with five different colored markers or pencils. I did this recently and discovered that after sight, my most used sense was smell, then sound, then touch. I didn’t use taste at all in that particular chapter.
You don’t need to use every sense in every chapter but you do want your writing to come alive and varying the senses will help you reach this goal.
One way to play with sound is through onomatopoeia—words that imitate the sounds the words describe. We’ve all seen this device used in comic books or in cartoons: POW, WHAM, BAM, etc. But you can also invent word sounds to match anything you want. Read more
When a book instantly grabs me and draws me in, I like to go back later and analyze why. Sometimes, it’s the subject matter. Sometimes, it’s the narrator’s voice. Sometimes, it’s a simile or metaphor that hooks me. Always, it’s the strong writing. Strong writing means that the arrangement of words on the page “works.” Strong writing is an art that we can learn.
Many award-winning, best-selling authors have a secret weapon that helps them produce strong writing. That secret success weapon is the use of rhetorical devices.
Award-winning poet and author Jack Remick discusses his use of rhetorical devices in his interview with Joel Chafetz. He says that the devices all conspire to create a certain cadence in his work. He goes on to say:
…”it’s not enough to put the words down, that’s information. You have to make the words dance and rhetoric can make your words dance. Most people dismiss rhetoric but rhetoric cannot be dismissed. Rhetoric can give you rhythm, rhetoric can give you cadence, rhetoric can give your writing new life. So the writing in Blood is thick with rhetorical devices. And that’s what you’re picking up—the poetry of violence couched in rhetorical devices driving images at full speed so the story spins out ahead of you, drawing you along with each one.”
I’ve used rhetorical devices in my poetry for years–alliteration, assonance, similes, metaphors, etc. These are some of the more common devices with their definitions below: Read more
In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the great tips I learned from writing guru Margie Lawson at the recent Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference.
Lawson coined the term “dialogue cues” to describe the psychological/emotional subtext around dialogue. (For a great discussion of subtext with examples, read The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter).
I’ve been experimenting with creating dialogue cues since Lawson’s class and made up my own “dialogue cue” practice as I did with metaphor practice. Here’s what I do:
1. Using one word or a short phrase make a list of attributes of your character—try using what Lawson calls “power words,” words that have an emotional or psychological impact on your reader.
The list for the antagonist in my current work might look like this: Sexy, Sensual, Ancient, Devious, Infectious, Hypnotic, Charming. Read more