When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.
I have never wanted to write like Pulitzer Prize Winners Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, or William Faulkner,. The style doesn’t fit me. Not to say I wouldn’t love to win one of the world’s most prestigious writer awards–who wouldn’t?–but I don’t think I can make the compromises to my personal voice to fit into that square hole.
I didn’t understand why until I read Joe Bunting’s article on what characterizes that style of writing (see below). You may see yourself in them. That’s good. There’s room for all of us under the authorial umbrella. If you want more information, click through and read his article. You’ll love it:
We all know there are novels and then there are “literary” novels. When you read Margaret Atwood, it just feels different than when you read Tom Clancy. And for some reason, these literary novels are the ones that win all the most prestigious awards like the Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker Prize, and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Literary authors are known for their unique voices and experimental styles. You might have learned not to write run-on sentences in school or to avoid beginning a sentence with “and,” but literary writers often seem to flaunt their rule-breaking ways.
This is both good and bad. Literary novels can be difficult to understand, but they can also be beautiful to read, like poetry.
So if you’re salivating to win a Nobel Prize, and just don’t think your diplomacy skills are good enough to win the Peace Prize, here are eight techniques you can use to make your writing more “literary.”
- Write long sentences.
- Write short sentences
- Be lyrical
- Make an allusion to the Bible or Moby Dick or Milton
- Use an eponym to name your characters
- Be specific
- Write a story within a story (or a story within a story within a story)
- Have a wide scope
I’m glad writers are out there who create this kind of literary prose, but it’s not me. And that’s fine.
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller that she just finished. Any ideas? Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.