Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Writing that Sparkles

Sparkle-- (v.)-- 1. "to throw off sparks of light or fire; to twinkle; 2.) to be lively or active."

Question: when does one's writing sparkle? What's missing--or needs changed--if it doesn't?

The subject came up in our recent writers' group meeting. I shared the story of a rejection I once received. The editor, who had published other stories of mine, noted at the top of the first page, "This lacks your usual sparkle."

Sparkle? I was new to writing back then. What's that--and how do I recognize whether or not I have it?

As I continue revising my children's historical fiction, I discover problem areas and have to ask, "What's wrong here?" More often than I care to admit, I find myself saying, "This page is boring," or, "Boy, is this ever flat." The sparkle is missing.

But I'm not discouraged. It only means there's more work to be done. Thankfully tried-and-true guidelines--sparks of the trade--endure. Each generation learns them anew. They include: show, don't tell; use active verbs; incorporate sensory details; vary sentence structure; avoid cliches and repetitions.

Robyn Opie's article, "Making Your Writing Sparkle" (you can read it  here), develops the subject in depth. In addition to those things on my list, she discusses pace, transitions, and logic--all very important elements to good writing.

There's a lot that can slow down our stories--but key writing principles can liven them up.

Hmmm, maybe there's something here that might help us add sparkle to our lives in general. Any ideas?

(photo credit: Microsoft Publisher clipart)


  1. Oh, great post! Thanks for the link to Robyn's article. I'll definitely check it out.

    And thanks for visiting Book Dreaming. I love to make new blog buddies. :-)

  2. Thanks, Shannon! I'm happy to meet you. I will be visiting your site often :-)