When I finished the first draft of a novel, my critique group was fabulously supportive. They told me all the things they loved and all the things that needed work. What surprised me the most, though, was their unanimous howl of despair that I had never paid off the romantic frisson between the two main characters. Not a single kiss! How could I?!
“But I’m not writing a romance,” I stuttered.
Their icy stares haunt my dreams, still…
I don’t write romance. I cringe when I read sex scenes. But being a bit of a prude doesn’t absolve me of the need to let my characters get a little lovin’. Clearly I need to practice writing something that’s outside my comfort zone.
Write a story in a style/tone you never use
- If all your stories tend towards melancholy, try writing something utterly goofy today.
- If you write very descriptively, try writing a piece as all (or mostly) dialogue between two distinct voices. Or vice versa.
- If you normally write deep literary reflections, try a catalogue-of-errors romp.
- Rewrite an earlier story in a totally different tone.
- It might not be a work of art (or even a proper story), but you’ll learn something about lightness, language, rhythm and tone.
- Don’t worry if you don’t think you could write a whole sci-fi novel, or you don’t know the conventions of a mystery or if everyone has always told you you’re just not funny. Try it. Write something short, sweet and out of your comfort zone.
- There’s nothing wrong with developing a style. In fact it’s a smart career move. But even within grim realistic contemporary fiction, you’re going to occasionally want a little humor, or horror, or mystery. Writing shorts in different tones can help you vary the tone of longer works (or collections of short works).
- Branching out not only mixes things up for readers, it helps you to boost your creativity, keep the excitement going, and revitalize your own writing.
- If you’re having trouble with this, read, watch or listen to something you admire that is in the tone you’re aiming for today.
Me? I’m off to write turn down the lights, drape something in velvet, and write a story that’d make E.L. James say ‘Steady on, old girl!” Wish me luck!