Thursday, February 10, 2011

Make a decision to make decisions when you write

Thoughts on Kelly McBride's webinar* yesterday on writing with voice and tone:

She built the session around choices a writer makes and showed specific examples, but even if you forget the examples, remember the word: Choices. The choices you make as a writer -- beginning with understanding that you do have choices to make all along the way -- are what will help you become a better writer.

For me, that came through most when she and Howard Finberg talked about how the meaning of a list of books would change, in the context of the story, depending on what order they were listed in. Ending the list with 'Anne Frank' would have created a more serious tone, while ending it with 'Paddington's Bear' a lighter tone.

As McBride noted throughout her session, stuff like that matters. Not all stories are the same, so they require different tones, different levels of your voice. As you're reporting, as you're organizing, as you're beginning to write, be asking yourself: What am I writing about? What's the point of the story? What is the story trying to say? What do I want the reader to get from this? How should they feel when they put my story down?

The answers to those questions can guide your decision-making as you write the piece, and help you nail the voice and tone.

What resonated with you? I invite anyone who was there (and even anyone who wasn't there but has a thought on this topic) to join the conversation.

*If you missed it, a replay is up on the NewsU site. Let me know and I can log you in.