This is a guest post from Sarah Fox. Read more of her brilliant musings at The Bookish Fox.
Have you ever seen the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
Well, there is a scene where a teacher drones in a monotone. The students are slumped forward in their desks, drooling with vacant eyes.
It is pretty much a writer’s worst nightmare to have her work sound like that (and to cause that reaction). How do you prevent dull writing and infuse more personality in your writing? Well, I have five tips to make your writing have more pizzazz than a Lady Gaga music video.
1. Don’t Read Anything Before You Write
Once upon I read a Jane Austen novel before I worked on my young adult novel. Huge mistake. My teenage characters sounded like they were from Regency England.
I basically had to scrap a day’s worth of work. Do not read anything before you write (this is why I advocate writing first thing in the morning). This way you avoid borrowing anyone else’s style, and you sound completely like yourself.
2. Write to One Person
It is counterintuitive, but your writing speaks to more people when you write to one person. So the next time you sit down and write, imagine you are writing to a specific person. It could be your mom, your favorite client, or even your dog!
This technique helps you write in your “voice” and prevents you from sounding stiff or too preachy. Also, you tend to write in more details and specifics when you are thinking of a single person.
3. Incorporate Your Interests
Are you obsessed with Labyrinth? Do you play tennis in your free time? Maybe you cannot show enough people pictures of your dog. Whatever you are passionate about, find a way to include it in your writing. For example, maybe you use a relevant Disney lyric as a headline or use a soccer metaphor to explain a concept that you are trying to teach.
4. Read Your Work Out Loud
Read your work out loud and ask yourself, “Would I say this to a friend?” If the answer is “no,” rewrite the sentence. Not only does this technique ensure that your writing sounds natural, there is the added benefit that this will help you edit your work. You are more likely to catch errors when you read your writing out loud.
5. Trust Yourself
The fastest way to write something stiff and boring? Writing when you are stressed out or trying to be someone you are not. Relax. You are awesome, and the world is eagerly waiting to read what you have to say. You can do it!
Sarah Fox is a novel writing coach and editor who helps ambitious authors start and complete their novels. When she is not working on her own novel, she writes for Quirk Books and Imaginary Book Club. You can find her thoughts on writing and pop culture at The Bookish Fox.