Flip-Flops and Ripped Pajama Pants
Writing a novella, short story, or poem? Got a great idea for a YA novel or paranormal romance? Have you outlined the story, at least in your head? Maybe you've already dug deep into your treasure trove of thoughts and put pen to paper or fingers to keys. Excellent. I applaud you.
Many who've taken this courageous step will at some point encounter the dreaded self-doubt. If you’re like me, sometimes you may wonder if you’re writing the worst drivel in the world. You may question if there's anyone out there who will appreciate your story or love your characters as much as you do. Will your hard work and effort forever remain in slush pile hell? Do you measure up to the authors you love? Does your story have merit, or do you feel at times that you suck at story telling? Well, you are not alone.
I’ve typed my share of paragraphs that at first glance checked all the boxes for a successful passage. The grammar was spot-on, the spelling correct, and it wasn’t plagued by dangling participles. Yet, it was missing something. It was boring. It had no teeth. Inadequacy crept in. Butterflies swarmed in my gut. My snippet failed in comparison to that of established authors. I fell into the trap of comparing my work to other writers.
I let those thoughts rent space in my head for a quick minute. I wallowed in a line from one of my books, Threads of Red, which is still a work in progress. The main character Ellie Tanner, who is in a relationship with A-list actor, Ezekiel Larson, doubts herself to the deepest essence of who she is. She compares herself to other actresses and models jockeying for position to take her place and strut next to him on the red carpet, as eye-candy on his arm. The negative mantra in her head is, “Flip-flops and ripped pajama pants can’t hold a candle to stilettos and designer dresses."
NEWS FLASH! I did say a quick minute. I squashed that pitiful notion and adopted a spanking new mantra. HELL TO THE NO!! I refused to allow negative self-talk to impede my focus, infiltrate my writing passion, and prevent me from reaching my goal to be a successful author. Perhaps you should too. I spiced up my sentences by finding better words to express my ideas. Once I found my sweet spot, writing in that style became second nature and my novel soared to the next level. Yours can too. So . . .
From one writer to another, stop doubting, just stop. Cease comparing yourself to others. Write from your heart. Do your homework. Join author groups. Strike out on a crusade to make your writing better, from beginning to middle to end. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Add twists and turns. Make sure every chapter shines with something unexpected. Too much backstory? Delete. Delete. Delete. Copy and paste into a separate document. That way you can refer to it, or slip parts of it in throughout your novel.
Force yourself to write better sentences, dump busy words, and fill in gaps with more description. Writing well takes practice. Once you learn the formula for successful storytelling and the art of sentence structure, choosing the right words, creating a smooth rhythm, and writing concise dialogue will flow naturally.
Take a good look at successful query letters http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries and those left in limbo http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/
Remember, you always have the option to ditch the flip flops and ripped pajama pants and get glammed up!! Literally and figuratively.