Friday, September 18, 2015

Guest post by Lynn Nodima: The Romance Writer's Phrase Book Will Help You be a Better Writer

The Romance Writer's Phrase Book by Jean Kent and Candace Shelton was published in March of 1984. I bought my copy new in the fall of 1984, and have used it so much I really need to get a new copy. The one I have is worn to the point of almost falling apart.

Why do I use it that much? Simple. The book explains how to take good fiction and change it into engaging, can’t put it down fiction. Writing fiction is so different than writing non-fiction, poetry, or professional documents.

In non-fiction and professional documents, you have to remove yourself, the writer, from the text. In some ways, poetry is almost all tags. If it isn’t visual or evoking some kind of response it fails as poetry.

 When writing fiction, you have to immerse yourself in your character’s world. You have to experience what your character feels, touches, sees, hears, and desires.

If your character is angry, you can’t just say: Bob was angry enough to shout. While it tells the story, it’s not engaging for the reader. The way to make the previous example engaging for the reader is to add tags to the sentence.

Without tags: 

Bob was angry enough to shout.

With tags: 

Bob felt the muscles in his neck tighten, the nails of his hands bite deep into his curled palms, and struggled to control the words that pushed against his clenched lips.

An added bonus is that the tags help increase the length of the story, so a novel that doesn’t make it to novel length can be rewritten using tags to be the right number of words.

The authors recommend, and I heartily concur, that you do not copy the phrases, or tags, verbatim from the book. Instead, immerse yourself in the section about the emotion or action you need to write, then write it using your own words. Using tags increases the richness of your writing and makes it more memorable for the reader.

Are you writing with tags?