My last few posts had very concrete ideas. In fact they were conversations that I had with prospects and mentees, which got turned into blogs. But what do you write about when you have to honor your writing commitment and don’t know what to write about.
I am going to go to the basics and talk about the toolbox of writing. This is going to be an easy read.
1. Vocabulary: As soon as you open your toolbox, you look for words. I didn’t know what this post was going to be about until I started writing it. But if I didn’t have these words, it would have been tough. As a writer, write as you would say it. Don’t complicate it for the audience.
It was dewy, slippery. You could see water droplets reflecting the green. They looked like small emeralds glinting in the sun.
You could write “The grass was wet”.
Unless the story, plot or character asks for such details, keep it simple. Use your day to day vocabulary.
2. Grammar: I don’t know what is used in other parts of the world, but in India, for English Grammar, we swear by Wren and Martin. The messieurs wrote this book for the children of British officers in India (when India used to be a British colony), and it has since then been dutifully used in all Indian and Pakistani schools as the Bible for English Grammar.
I like what Stephen King says about grammar “you either know it, or you don’t”. So don’t fret it. To become better at it, work your way through this book. If you know yourself to be a lost cause, make the best of what you know. Good storytelling was never dependent on great grammar. Though it certainly helps.
3. Active or Passive voice: Bad writing is generally an outcome of our fear of bad writing. Read that again. So when we use passive voice, we believe it to have some kind of authority that will make the reader understand exactly what the writer is saying. You know what. Let the reader make their own mistakes at misunderstanding your characters. That is a part of their story- one that you need not concern yourself with.
I use active voice, simply because I want to do things in my stories; and not have things done to me.
The poop flew out of Henry the Horse’s rear with a feral intensity.
Henry the Horse pooped hard.
Take your pick. I pick Henry as the subject, not his poo.
This toolbox is my go to when I start writing. Your toolbox could have rules on adverbs, gerunds and past participles.
I believe that only if it is written how it should be read, it will be read exactly how it is written.
Writing is tough. But you know that already.