Archive for the ‘lion’ Category


3 things that make writing good and powerful

February 14, 2008

I have been tagged by Neil over at the Other Side of the River with a shameless lion award.


Essentially this is one of those chain letter exercises, wherein you have to answer a set of questions and then send the “tagging” onto a group of friends to continue the chain.

Therein lies my problem.  I pinged several people regarding sending this on and…well…nobody got back to me.  So I thought it better to publish my thoughts on the matter and continue to nag pursue them to participate.

So here’s the deal.  The question we are supposed to answer is what are three things that make for good and powerful writing.

Here are my three things.

  1. A problem to solve.
    1. The problem depends on the genre, but there needs to be one.
      1. In a Jane Austen novel it is typically a medium-well-to-do young woman in trouble of falling out of her station and having to rely on true love with a man above her in life to rescue her.
      2. In a sci fi novel it is often some external unknowable threat that our hero[s] need to discover the weakness of and then exploit.
      3. In a fantasy novel it is often the undying/invincible evil overlord that will soon bring ultimate darkness on the world and the young hero who doesn’t know his destiny.
  2. Effective use of language
    1. Strip it.
      1. Channel Hemingway whenever you can. Don’t use complicated words where simple English words will suffice. “Utilize” sucks! “Use” rules!
    2. Describe where description pushes the story.
      1. In direct opposition to the “Strip it” bullet point, when the story needs the reader to smell the blood on the floor or taste the acrid smoke from the age encrusted hearth, make sure they can smell it or taste it.
      2. Tricky right? Yup.
    3. Believable dialog.
      1. I suck at dialog. I’m working on it. But make sure it reads like speaking and not like writing.
      2. If your protagonist is from Hungary and speaks broken English, then make his English broken.
  3. A protagonist that you care about. Even if by caring I mean hate.
    1. Do you remember the best characters you’ve read? I do.
      1. Trent the uncatchable.
      2. Lazarus Long.
      3. Elric
      4. Corwin of Amber
    2. This can be done in a few short words if done correctly. But if you don’t make the reader care about something about the protagonist then they might as well be reading a stock report.

There are a jillion pieces and parts that go into good writing but for me those are three key ones.

Also for astute observers you’ll note that the logo is not the approved one…well I thought that logo was pretty boring so I went ahead and made one.

Here is the standard one:

Roar Large Lighter