If you want your written word to appeal to others, you need one thing.
But not just any readers.
You need a writing group.
If you’re unfamiliar, a writing group is friends or relatives, willing or locked in your basement, who critique your work on a regular basis. They will also hold you accountable for completing new work for them to appraise.
One of the hardest parts of writing for me and I think most people, is establishing a level of consistency.
It’s like working out. You need to do it enough that you establish a solid foundation. It’s why for so many people P90X turns into P12X.
And that’s what a writing group is perfect for. Imagine you knew Tony Horton was going to rip the covers off your bed and do squats on your chest until you went and worked out with him. I almost guarantee that if everyone received that kind of personal attention, there’d be a lot of slim guys and gals with confused muscles… or whatever he does to them.
Your writing group pushes you, doesn’t let you miss a week, doesn’t let you turn in a sorry excuse for a submission and demands you do better with every one.
Frankly, I sorely underestimated the power of a writing group. I have a pretty high opinion of myself and my writing and doubted the feedback would be useful. I have since recanted.
The problem is, the scenes you envision ONLY exist in your head. The backdrop is already set, characters are detailed and dressed appropriately (unless you are writing a nakie scene), their actions are effortlessly natural (unless you are writing a first time nakie scene).
Yet when you try to gather your thoughts on paper, you’ll miss things. Lots of things. And even when you re-read it, you’ll miss them again. Because you already know what is supposed to happen, the words you write supplement, rather than create, the scene.
Time for an extremely graphic and accurate analogy.
I just finished a delicious lunch consisting of a raspberry donut, a Rockstar, a burrito and a glass of raw milk. If Tony Horton burst through my kitchen wall and punched my stomach, I’d spew everywhere.
If a stranger then came and examined my sick, he’d have a lot of guesses at what I had just eaten. But they wouldn’t quite be right. To me, the bits and pieces of my rainbow yawn would paint a perfect picture of my diet, but only because I had the lunch menu to sort it all out.
A writing group is the compromise, the bystanders plugging their nose while pointing to the milk carton, the empty Rockstar can and the jelly dripping from my fingers.
And that’s about enough of that analogy….
Basically, as I’ve mentioned before with character building, it’s your job to get things right for your reader and a writing group is the easiest way to accomplish that task.
Don’t make reader’s guess, don’t make them assume.
Don’t make them feel like they’re sifting through barf.