That extra “umph” in Writing

You ever finish writing a piece and look at it, like really look at it, and you feel like something’s missing? Like some vital piece of the work that would really make it shine just isn’t there? Like the piece is just words on a page with no meaning, emotion, or passion?

Yeah, I’ve been there too. So, I’ll suggest a couple things to help you put that extra “umph” into your writing and make it jump off the page.

  1. Write from a real place- whether in fiction or non fiction, all writing comes from a real place of some kind (in fiction, the place is ethereal but still real in a sense). Whenever you’re writing your story, try thinking of a moment in your life that inspires the emotion you’re trying to convey with your characters whether it be sadness, pain, loss, joy, excitement, etc. This way, you get to be authentic to yourself and your audience.
  2. Eliminate all distractions while writing- in order to get in the zone, you need to be focused. Totally focused. No social media, no youtube, Netflix, Hulu, none of that. You got work to do. Once you eliminate distractions and keep your ass in the chair, you’re able to perform something called “Deep Work”, you’ve probably heard of the book, and really get the best out of yourself and not the garbage swirling around on the surface.
  3. Become your characters- you don’t know anybody until you’ve been in their head or lived their lives for a little bit. The first one’s impossible (unless you’re the US Government, but let’s not go there) and the second one’s more likely so let’s go with that. When you get into your character’s head and become them, take on their worldview, visualize and live through their pasts, dig into why they do the things they do, it becomes easier to bring them to life and make them real. Also, use parts of you to create the characters, that way you can still write from a real place without it seeming forced and contrived.
  4. Describe, describe, describe- Go nuts on description. That’s most of your story anyway. Sure, there’s some action but mostly it’s description. Make it vivid, make it impossible not to visualize, be an artist at the canvas with a overwhelming amount of creative energy and paint your picture in words. Be colorful, elegant, graceful, dark, ugly, whatever you want. Just go nuts on description! Be reckless! Let it all out!

Well, those are just a few suggestions to put that extra “umph” into your writing. If it doesn’t feel alive to you, if you’re not putting on your best Victor Frankenstein impression screaming “it’s alive, it’s alive!” then something is missing, something vital (like a heart, for instance) and you have to find out what it is. If you don’t, you’re writing will suffer and so might your self-esteem, so get to it!

Till next week. . .

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2 thoughts on “That extra “umph” in Writing

  1. Thanks for sharing, Josiah! Always a pleasure to read your articles. Your first rule is inestimably important — write with passion and emotion. Don’t intellectualize. Just write! I do think writers ought to be careful with rule four, though. I’m a lover of description as well, but too many adverbs and adjectives can tire the reader and kill the story. Writing, I believe, is most effective in the approach of ‘less is more’. Each description should be vibrant and provocative (perhaps executed with the use of a similie) but should be no more than a few sentences. Unless, of course, you’re Edgar Allan Poe or HP Lovecraft, but let’s be honest. Even though those writers were 100% creative geniuses, they could, in at least a few of their longer tales, become a bit tedious! That’s just my two cents, anyway.

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    1. No prob, Tylor. Always a pleasure to read one of your comments. I agree that writers like Poe or Lovecraft could be a bit long-winded at times but were still geniuses. And your opinion on description is also valid, just a few sentences and onto the next thing, no need to stop the story for flowery language. Thanks for commenting and look forward to reading more in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

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