A couple of weeks ago, the lovely and talented Shauna Roberts put my name up for the Roar for Powerful Words. I have to list, in my opinion, the three most important essentials for powerful and effective writing.
I may have taken the task too seriously. This blog is full of tools large and small, but three essentials demands getting down to first principles. Almost two weeks later, I'm finally ready to answer.
3. Practice: None of us is born perfect and at the height of our powers. Even the greatest talent is nothing more than potential. Learning to write, play the cello or do a backflip takes work: practice, development, practice, examination of the greats and the not-so-greats, and practice.
Sports authorities say it takes ten thousand hours to become good. John D MacDonald said it was one million words. No matter how you look at it, it's a long road...
2. Craft: James Joyce or James Ellroy, craft is at the heart of what we do. It's the lens through which your story is viewed.
You may use words to weave gossamer strands of lyric beauty or to craft razor-sharp icepicks. Either way, you should know exactly why you use every single word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, scene and chapter in your work.
I sometimes meet aspiring writers who assume their basic literacy is all they need to tell their stories. Vocabulary and grammar are fundamental and basic tools, but your tools need to be exceedingly sharp if they're to cut to your reader's heart.
And the number one essential to pwerful and effective writing....
1. Love: Ten thousand hours is a long damn time. One million words is roughly ten novels.
There are some gorgeous, gratifying moments on that road, but also plenty of despair. And even if you walk those long miles and use every step to become the very, very best that you can be, there's no guarantee your best will be good enough. I once knew a fencer like that: very dedicated and very, very bad.
Fate is fickle, rewards uncertain. Money and fame may find you, but they just as easily may not. In the end, the only reason to walk this road is love.