I’ve been going to writers’ groups for quite some time now. Something that I’ve been noticing a lot lately is that writers need to listen to themselves a little bit more, and have more confidence in their own gut reactions.
Let me set the scene for you.
A writer presents a piece of work to the group. They wait as the others read it, make notes, and then the feedback begins. Each in turn shares their thoughts and feedback. Eventually, a reader will question something about the piece and a discussion about a particular point in the writing starts. Let’s say that they described a house as ‘decrepit’ and that word really struck out as not the right word to use. During the discussion, the writer who wrote the piece will say, “It’s a bit of a dump, that’s what I was trying to convey.”
My question would then be: Why didn’t they just say that then?
As writers, we have a tendency to strive for the perfect word, or the perfect sentence, or the perfect paragraph. This has a habit of leading to us using other words. My previous sentence is a good example of that; I wanted to say “this has a tendency to…” but I used the word tendency in the sentence before. I changed it so that it avoided the repetition. Similarly, we often rewrite things to read better or more clearly, or sometimes we are just trying to be clever with our writing. There’s nothing wrong with doing any of that, but it doesn’t always work, and that’s the point when you need to listen to yourself. If you’re thinking that something is house, then it’s a house, not a dwelling. Conversely, if you think it’s a dwelling, then call it a dwelling instead of a house. Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used words quite close together; if it’s the right word it’s the right word. The rules are all completely superseded by what the story wants and, by extension, what you want as the story’s creator.
So, listen to yourself a bit more. Your work will thank you for it.
© 2018 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.