Non-Fiction Secrets: Writing Essays and Other Truths
Tell the truth -- beautifully! Get tips for writing non fiction essays and articles.
The art of writing is bringing your words to life on the page. And one of the best ways to do this is to write with all the senses. In other words, don't just write about what your characters see. Describe what they hear, smell, touch and even taste as well. This is a guaranteed way to make your writing more vivid and exciting.
Here's a quick example:
Tony offered Malcolm one of his roll-ups. Malcolm had previously refused, but because he felt guilty about dropping Tony's paintbrush, this time he accepted. He didn't enjoy it at all though.
Now here's the same scene again, with the senses of taste and touch added. By the way, this paragraph comes from the published novel Painter Man by UK author Jeff Phelps:
Malcolm had already refused one of Tony's roll-ups, but now felt so bad about the brush that he accepted. Between his lips it had the texture of toilet paper. It tasted disgustingly of Tony's Old Spice aftershave.
No prizes for identifying which of these descriptions brings the scene more vividly to life! Writers are always taught to show, not tell, and writing with all the senses is one of the very best ways you can do this.
Don't kid yourself, anything we write/post/publish and offer to their world as our own combination of words ultimately has to be thought of as entertainment. If this makes you cringe, read on. Your writing does not have to make the reader happy, sad, angry or relieved, but it does have to take the reader somewhere and it does have to move the reader in some way. Your main character(s) have to move towards something. S/he can progress or regress but there has to be change. There can be movement towards birth, rebirth, revelation, disappointment, death or disaster, but the work must move in some way. Something has to happen.
It is possible that the essence of the work is a simple revelation: The character remembers something, or sees something, or does something, and it can be a very small thing, but the impact must be felt and it must lead to some kind of transformation, however minor.
We writers are selfish beasts, and of course, we write to express ourselves. But while our writing can be healing and therapeutic for us, we must remember that we are taking the reader along on our journey and s/he must feel stirred by what we write. You must always ask yourself, where I am going with this and why is the reader going to care?
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