Thursday, February 17, 2011

If You Are Going to Bomb, Bomb Big

If you are going to bomb, bomb big. This is the old acting adage. What it means it that, when acting, you should make bold, decisive choices and then stick to them. Commit! Because even if you make the wrong choice, if you commit to it, if you own it, you might just be able to get away with it. In my opinion, the same goes with writing.
Writing is good when it is truthful – when it has energy, rhythm. In other words, when it is alive – human – when the words are infused with personality. In order to do this, writers must take risks. They must take risks with the kinds of characters they choose and what part of their own psyche they access when writing about these characters or even in the first person. Don’t pussy-foot around issues. Confront them. Be truthful. If you are going to talk about your first bisexual relationship, then explain it in all its lurid details. If you are going to describe what it was like growing up with an alcoholic father, don’t allude to events: describe them vividly. Above all, show, don’t tell! As with any art form, truthful writing is real writing. It connects with the reader. If you are adopting the voice of another character, then do so boldly. Don’t worry about making that character a little over the top. It’s better that she be too loud than too drab and boring. This is one tip for punching up an otherwise boring piece of writing: adopt a voice, go on a rant, create a quirky persona in your head. You will see how the writing comes alive. All in all, when writing, be sure to always choose a distinct voice. This often takes a bit of practice. In fact, it might take a lot of practice to find your true, real voice. But once you do, this will give your writing the mark of originality. Think of your favorite writers: they don’t just sound like everyone else, right? They don’t just write about the same boring things. And if they do write about something terribly prosaic, then they approach it in a very original way. Their voice shines; it is vivid. But all they have done is make the bold decision to be different, to show their true originality that each of us is born with. A challenge for us all….

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