Thursday, September 02, 2010

Making Certain Our Writing Says Exactly What We Mean

In order to tell our stories effectively, writers must make ourselves clear to our readers. This is true whether we’re writing the Great American Novel or a simple ad.

When our family first moved to this rural area,a bit of misunderstood writing amused me. An ad in the weekly shopping news read, “We buy natives.” Our daughters and I cracked up over it. My sensible husband ignored our giggles. After all, he was used to us. A tiny slice of my heritage is Native American—Cherokee to be specific—and this ad created the mental image of a slave block with Native Americans lined up for sale. Many pecan orchards are in this area. Of course, the ad meant native pecans, as opposed to the cultivated varieties. So, I wonder, why didn’t the prospective buyer say, “We buy pecans?” Same number of words in the ad, yet a very different message.

Recently the editor of my next release, Leanne Morgena from The Wild Rose Press, pointed out several areas where I had left out emotions that were evident to me when writing HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. After all, I know the characters and what they’re experiencing. Unfortunately, I neglected to make this clear. How embarrassing! I’d like to say this is the first time this has happened to me, but that would be untrue. However, this book involved many more of those instances than any other I've written. Because my characters become friends I know well, I sometimes fail to make their feelings and reactions known to the reader.

This is why we writers need a beta reader or critique partner to check our work. We know what we mean, so it’s hard for us to catch mistakes like the one above. I have several great friends who help me. They had not worked on HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME because it’s one I wrote before I had critique partners. I’ll never submit a book again without having others read it thoroughly—just to make certain what I mean is actually what I've written.

This was a prize-filled week, but I'm not through with giveaways yet! Leave a comment to be entered in my weekly drawing for a PDF download of one of my books.


rbooth43 said...

Texas is not my home, but North Carolina is. Home Sweet North Carolina Home is the country home I have lived in all my 67 years of Life. My parents died when I was 19and 20 years old. I married at 21 years old and my wonderful husband passed away nine years ago. I have never moved, not many can say that.
Home Sweet Taxas Home sound like a great read as I love reading about different states and learn about the different ways of life.
Caroline, I have noticed your books and really want to read them.
I also love A Writer's Life and read every post. Great work!
I have kept up with your posts since Lilly Gayle interviewed you on her blog.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thank you, rbooth. I really appreciate your feedback! Our family has moved too many times. Now we realize our daughters would have been better off if we had stayed at one particular house. Sigh. We are blessed with better hindsight than foresight. I envy you living in one place all your life.
Good luck in my drawing for one of my books.