A few weeks ago, I completed an interview for an online magazine. One significant question referred to the essential skills needed as a writer. I concluded that the list of important abilities that exist could be endless. So, I decided to emphasize the most significant communication skills based on my writing experience.
Communication- it seems easy enough. Right?
After all, there’s a story in each of us. But I learned early on that anyone can throw words and sentences together. However, it requires specific communication skills to craft interesting stories for a broad population of readers (not just your family and friends). So, what problem areas exist in your story? Overall, to fix something, you need to know where the glitches exist in your writing.
I wonder . . . do your words make for a good read?
- Are your words and sentences connected in such a way to make for a captivating piece? Character and story development and plot contribute to a good read. A well-defined dialogue with the input of your unique writing voice will help to convey a satisfying reading experience. Capturing your book lovers from the beginning of your story and keeping their attention throughout is vital.
Is there clarity in your narrative?
- Communicate with clear language and ideas which a reader can understand. Don’t overthink the use of words. In writing my first picture book, I included phrases that children would not comprehend. In the editing process, I needed to simplify and remove needless words, as well as shorten sentences. Writers call it, “Write tight.” Also, avoid clichés. Some readers are not familiar with these sayings. Clichés can be confusing, uncreative, and occasionally insensitive.
Is your story written in an active voice?
In 2010, when I attended my first writing conference, I joined a session titled, “Just Say No to Passive Writing.” The presenter explained and gave examples of passive vs. active words and sentences. Afterwards, she gave us a green highlighter to mark the passive verbs in our writing. Needless to say, the first page of my manuscript lit up like a Christmas tree!
- Examples of some word offenders: “Is, was, were, to be, been, by, have, has, had, and are.” Let’s look at this sentence, “The house was struck by lightning (passive).” Rewriting the sentence, “Lightning struck the house (active).” The result — less text using vital verbs. In all honesty, using active verbs doesn’t come easy for most writers. Don’t give up! Continue to study and practice to perfect this area in your writing. Note: There are times that character dialogue may use passive verbs.
Is your story well written, clear of spelling and grammatical errors?
We can only depend on spell check to a certain degree.
- Most times you’ll locate these mishaps in the many phases of editing. Also, use adverbs sparingly. Toss the ‘ly’ words in your text and use strong verbs.
Have you bonded emotionally with your readers?
- Connecting with our readers ensure they will come back to our stories over and over. Every story needs conflict and should start with a strong hook. When introducing your protagonist’s struggle, make it personal.
A couple of years ago, I was gifted a copy of a book. The synopsis captured my attention, which led me to read the novel. At the story’s end, I wanted more. The author reeled me in by showing the protagonist’s and characters’ raw emotions.
- Whatever issues or emotions your characters suffer, do not tell it, but rather show it. It’s easy to write, “She cried.” But, show your readers the emotion of the character. Such as, “She gasped for air as she sobbed.” Or, let’s say your character is frustrated. You write, “He was discouraged, (passive and telling voice in one sentence).” An alternative, “He picked up the vase on the table and threw it across the room.” In this way, readers feel the helplessness of the character. Connecting with our readers can make for a good, no; a great story!
In conclusion, we all can enhance our communication skills.
As you craft your work, study the works of other authors similar to yours. Take advantage of in-person or online writing conferences and workshops. Once you feel confident, share your work with local critique groups specific to your genre. Receiving feedback from your peers helps to develop your craft.
For those disguised and lingering problems in your writing, invest in a proof reader, and/or a professional editor to assist in creating a good quality project.
Blessings to everyone who reads this blog post! Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Vanessa Fortenberry is an award-winning inspirational author of the children’s book series, Families Growing in Faith with the books: Mama, I Want to See God, Daddy, I Want to Know God, and Grandma, Granddad, We Want to Praise God. Vanessa uses her writing as a tool for Christian ministry that expands beyond the walls of the church and communicates inspirational messages to children and adults.
A Georgia Peach, Vanessa recently retired as a teacher librarian. To learn more about Vanessa, her writing endeavors, and to subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, please visit her website or connect with her here: