Storytelling is a hard thing to do, especially in a world consumed by instant gratification. It’s important, then, to ensure that the point you’re trying to make to your readers comes across loud and clear.
Here are 5 tips I use to help me make my points and reduce the ‘noise in my work’.
1. Consider the lessons learned
Whenever I read a story, I learn something. Whether that’s about myself, about society or just about something interesting, I take something away from every story.
When I sit down and write, I want the reader to take something from my work, too. So, before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I ask myself:
What would I want to take away from this if I were to read it for the first time?
A feeling of comfort, a fright, a laugh… Whatever it is, consider the destination before you start the engine and steer true as you write. Deviation will muddy your point.
2. Look into your writing style
Kerouac was known for spontaneous prose. His writing goal was to emphasise that ‘rush of feelings’ you get when you have just experienced something exhilarating and enthralling.
His work is sporadic and passionate. His sentences are long-winded. Kerouac’s writing style perfectly reflects the themes portrayed in his story. LIFE is not just read but felt on the page of any Kerouac book. The same should stand for your work.
3. Look at your characters
Who you’re writing about is important, too. Character development is a weak spot for me, and I’m only just beginning to learn the art of dialogue (and it is an art, trust me).
But, characters are idiosyncratic, and their uniqueness helps express the themes in your stories. Even if you write non-fiction, the people in your pieces highlight the point you’re trying to make. Development them well, and ensure they’re aligned to your theme.
4. Question your ‘why’
Why do you write? Answering this should be easy. But, as a career develops and new writing ideas and concepts are thrown about, it’s difficult to keep true to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I used to write fast and hard after reading Kerouac, and then take my time with developing description after reading Hemingway. Mimicking other writers diluted the themes I wanted to highlight.
Ask yourself why.
5. Read philosophy
A new trick for me is to read philosophy. I recently venture to Hay-on-Wye in Wales (the home of books in the UK) and brought an introduction to Kant and Plato’s The Symposium, as well as Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
I like to write fiction, and I generally know the points I want to make when I write fiction. But, it’s not as easy as understanding your point. You need to practice making it in metaphorical and interesting ways.
Philosophy, although more to-the-point than fiction, is helping me better understand the themes I want to write about. It’s up to me to shroud these themes in story thereafter.