Sunday, April 15, 2007

Getting the Most From Your Creative Writing - Two Top Strategies

The most successful creative writers do not just describe scenes or events; they write about them in such a way that the reader feels that they are actually experiencing the event themselves.

Two ways that a writer can do this are by the use of show not tell and onomatopoeia.

If there is one aspect of creative writing that is more important than any other, I would have to say that is show not tell.

Show not tell is a technique of writing whereby the writer shows how something feels, not how it looks. The aim is to create a picture in the reader's mind rather than using a whole lot of adjectives such as exciting or beautiful.

Describing a woman as beautiful is not very helpful to the reader as everyone has their own vision of beauty. However, when the writer describes the cloud of jasmine perfume that surrounds her, her voluptuous body and her mass of thick chestnut curls, the reader gets quite a strong feeling about the woman.

When you are describing something, try to describe its color, smell, sound, taste, shape and texture as applicable.

The following description of a garden evokes a feeling in the reader.

An old gnarled plum tree loaded with enormous purple plums stood in the middle of the garden. A family of magpies had made their nest on a top branch and all day long the garden reverberated with the screeching of the fledglings as they called out for their next meal. Bees buzzed around a rambling jasmine vine that twisted over an old decaying hen house. The thick scent of jasmine hung heavily in the air.

Such a vivid description of the garden includes the elements of color, smell, sound and shape. The reader has a real sense of being in the garden. The use of color, smell and sound has created a mental image that brings the garden to life.

Show, not tell is about getting the reader to make their own observations.

On the one hand one could write, 'The dress was old'.

Another way to describe the scene is, 'Mary gently lifted the dress from the cardboard box. The satin was now yellowed and the imitation pearls were dull and chipped. She wiped away a cobweb from the bodice and held the dress tenderly to her cheeks'.

The word old is never used, but there is no doubt in the mind of the reader that the dress is in fact old. However, the mood that is evoked by the description of Mary looking at the dress draws in the reader so that they feel they are actually looking at the dress too.

The use of onomatopoeia in creative writing also creates a mood. Onomatopoeia is a grouping of words that imitate the sound of the thing they are trying to describe. Examples of onomatopoeia are buzz, sizzle, screech, crackle. The use of these words in writing evokes a feeling in the reader because they can hear the sound. Onomatopoeia brings out the full flavor of the word. When writing children's books this is particularly important. Children love these 'sound' words.

The use of the above strategies will bring much more life to your writing.

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