Pursuing my passion of editing books for over ten years now, I've helped authors take simple steps to drastically improve their writing. In this series, I will share some of these steps that you can use today ...
Think of your pen (or keyboard) as a paintbrush.
When writing a story, think of your pen (or keyboard) as a paintbrush. You're not writing a newspaper article; you are painting a picture.
I've seen even the best authors slip into the rut of newspaper reporting:
"The approaching footsteps in the dark made Sarah feel scared."
The author could improve this sentence:
"The approaching footsteps in the dark terrified Sarah."
Although "terrified" is a more descriptive word than "scared," the author could still improve this sentence:
"In the darkness, Sarah's neck tightened at the sound of shuffling footsteps. Her thumping heart seemed to shake her entire body."
The word "scared" or even "terrified" are not used, but the reader gets a much more powerful sense of what is happening. Although this sentence is just an example I pulled out of the air, it just drew me into the story! I really want to know what happened to poor Sarah!
One way to paint a scene is to put yourself in the action. If you were Sarah sitting in the dark and hearing footsteps, what would be happening to your body? Would your skin feel cold? Would your eyes be wide? Would you shiver? Asking myself these questions helped me come up with the above sentence.
In your story, don't tell your reader what's happening. Show your reader what's happening by painting every scene. Draw your reader into your story by using your pen or keyboard as a paintbrush.