Do you struggle with finding the right words to bring your story to life? Are you tired of feeling like your writing is elementary and lacking depth? Mastering the art of storytelling requires not only the use of powerful words but also the ability to arrange them in a way that creates an immersive reading experience. In this blog post, we will take a look at 7 proven exercises to help you overcome writer’s block and elevate your fiction writing skills. By implementing these techniques, you can take your writing to the next level and create stories that will captivate your readers.
Word of The Day
Get one of those apps that help improve your vocabulary by feeding you a new word per day. Well-developed vocabulary and a wealth of word knowledge actually help in making writing smoother. You would tend not to pause too often while writing because you are in search of the right word. The right words come easily because you keep learning more words each day. As nice as this is, try not to get carried away by the need to use some unfamiliar/heavy words these apps feed us. Verbose sentences are tedious to comprehend, they make reading a banal venture, and abrade the reader’s forbearance. See what I did there? Such a snooty sentence I could laugh. Ease up a little on the stuffy sentences; simpler is usually better.
One method that can be highly effective is reading screenplays. Instead of watching movies, try reading the scripts. Screenplays not only include dialogue, but also provide detailed descriptions of characters, scenes, and atmosphere. These descriptions are written with the intention of painting a clear picture for the film’s creators and can serve as a great source of inspiration for your own writing. One great resource for finding scripts of your favorite movies and series is Script Slug. By reading these scripts, you can gain valuable insights into the craft of writing and elevate your own storytelling abilities.
Word flow, juxtaposition, rhyme, wordplay, artfully applied figures of speech and you have poetry. Reading poems and even attempting to write them is a good exercise for fiction writers. The mistake a lot of people make is to see poetry as some soft-sounding lines littered with flowery words used to describe love.
Think of hate, the acrid burning type that runs deep enough to consume sanity; think of rage that rips through the calm of self-control like a trashing fiery tornado. Think of loss, of humour, even basic things like light and the notification that pops up on your phone: poetry can be woven around those. It’s hardly always about love or a besotted partner spilling some cringe-tasteless romantic lines.
In poetry, one is more focused on the words and their impact but in fiction writing, it has more to do with whole sentences stitched together to paint a picture that tells a story. If you read poetry and try your hands at it, you get better at sprinkling your writing with artfully arranged words that leave a deep impression on your readers.
As a fiction writer, the natural world can be a treasure trove of inspiration. The plants, hills, oceans, and animals may be silent, but a skilled narrator can bring their stories to life with the power of words. Nature documentaries will be brain-melting boring if the narrator fails to weave words in such a way that the viewers remain captivated. Try attentively listening to the narrator as you watch documentaries and see if you can pick one or two lessons on how to use excellent word choice and on-point sentence delivery. I especially love watching documentaries narrated by David Attenborough; his voice and the narration fused together always pull me in.
Reading Fiction and Non-Fiction
The most cliche method ever: reading. I would not harp much on this. You subconsciously learn new words and their proper usage as you come across them often enough. To take this ability up a notch, you can train your mind to read like a writer and not a regular reader. A regular reader reads to be entertained but a writer learns how to write even as she reads. She notices the skill with which authors write and she also learns new words and their usage in the process.
Think of a series like Game of Thrones (for fantasy). The Bridgeton series (Historical). For action, The Black List’s Raymond Reddington does deliver good dialogue; impeccable vocabulary. In the Devil Wears Prada (Drama), Meryl Streep delivers a stellar performance as Miranda Priestly; her dialogue was chef kiss. Assassin’s Creed also contains interesting well narrated in-game stories and historically accurate sounding dialogue. Even in leisure, as we kick back to play an adventure game or watch a movie/series, take notice of word use. If you like how a character sounds, note what struck you and learn.
Remember the first lines of this article? The truth is you are likely not the problem. No writing is perfect at the get-go. If you took a stab at the story floating in your head and it came out as complete and utter trash, the option to edit still exists. Some may argue that trash writing deserves only one thing: the trash can. But hey, instead of trashing it, why not create a folder, give it a corny name like ‘one man’s trash’ or something silly that’ll make you giggle; try not to take this too seriously. Dump all the trash stories you believe are irredeemable there and revisit the folder after several months or even a year. I bet the earth’s sun you’d find potential in one or more of those babies you dumped.
Usually, what trash stories need is the good loving of proper editing and/or plotting. Ever notice that when you reread such stories after a long time, you find that the best words and how to properly structure the sentences come easily? I’d advise you to add what should be corrected in brackets next to the lines that need editing and continue to do this until you read through it all. Do not full-on edit at first reading; don’t kill the vibe. You can learn more about the most effective types of fiction editing here.
Did you find any helpful tips or exercises to improve your word usage in this article? Let us know in the comments below!