I was thinking a lot about the great writers of past and present and how they found their audiences, their voice, or their niche. If you`re a writer, or reader, and you explore the technology available to writers, whether they are professional, novice, aspiring, or they just like to write, you will see a vast universe of blogs, books, eBooks, online magazines, etc. If you’re a writer trying to find your way to some semblance of an audience, it`s like you`re a tiny fern at the bottom of the great Red Wood Forest, stretching and grasping for a small ray of sunlight. You better have a reader`s attention in the first sentence.
I was thinking about the great Shakespeare—not because I`m a huge fan, but because of a nugget of gold, in terms of advice, found in the play Hamlet. At one point in the play Polonius asks Hamlet the question: “what do you read, my Lord?” Hamlet replies, “Words, words, words.” This little piece of dialog is brilliant.
Now, before your eyes roll back into your head, you click the off button, and lunge for the kitchen for that snack or a cup of coffee—bear with me—there`s a message here. In his sarcastic, satirical answer, Hamlet makes a great point: If your writing is clichéd, pop-culture, day-in-and-day-out, news-room, gobble-goop…people will simply not turn the page or click the next link.
Hamlet dropped a nugget of gold on us when he said that all he saw in his reading was boring, tired, cliché, “words, words, words,” with a capital YAWN.
Big words, boring idioms, metaphors with a clichéd yawn, and poor aphorisms will equate to a small audience, no matter the genre. If we try to use the big words like power-play, out-of-the-box, moreover (which I`m guilty of at times), the scoop, red-herring, and “a good time was had by all,” (laughing) we will not develop a following.
I just finished reviewing a novel by a virtually unknown author that was a pleasant surprise. I was shocked when I began reading the book and she chose to use a first person narrative. This alone made me curious, just to see if she could pull it off. Not that first person is impossible, but let`s face it, third person omnipresent is the norm. On top of the narrative, she dared to use a tough, self-sufficient woman as her protagonist—a CIA operative at that. I admit, I generally can`t take the G.I Jane crap, but man did this writer pull it all off. She was fresh, believable, and even though her character was tough—she was vulnerable as well, when she truly should be in a real life situation. There was no MacGyver miracles where she turned a hairpin into an explosive device just in a nick of time. This woman is a truly talented writer reaching for a ray for sunshine—I know she will find it.
This author used strong nouns and verbs very well. She knew when to place an adjective or two, and she found words that were her own and made me keep turning the page. I have worked hard to help Marilynn Larew promote her book because, frankly, she never let me put the book down. Her writing was the best I`d seen in a while.
We all have our weaknesses, flaws, and bad habits as writers. We all need our slaps in the face from editors and readers to truly mature. But, if we want to develop a following, we have to bring something fresh and exciting to readers that have a hell of a lot to choose from with the technology of the day. God bless. WP