Friday, October 7, 2011

Hot sauce, pickles, and writers

Yesterday, a girl about 2 years old sitting next to me at a Mexican restaurant dipped a chip into the hot sauce and took a bite. Her eyes lit up like large olives, she raised her hands above her head, and froze; taking the experience in. We couldn’t tell if she was about to scream, or take another bite. She took another bite. It reminded me of an incident I’d seen years ago when a similar young kid took a bite out of a dill pickle. You could swear that tears were about to burst from her eyes. When the look of pain left her face, she took another bite.

That’s an outline for successful writing. Commercial, saleable writing MUST pop, zing, sting, irritate, excite, provoke, and otherwise make us happy, sad, mad or glad. God even agrees. He’s quoted as saying he’d wish we were either hot or cold in our belief – those that are lukewarm get spewed out of His mouth. Yikes. We don’t want that kind of writing.

Sol Saks wasn’t God (otherwise he wouldn’t be dead, bless his soul) but I was reading something by him the other day where he said you can’t go too far in making comedy zany. It has to be over the top to be effective. I’ll add to that. To catch the attention of readers today, you have to push the limits in one way or the other – either your writing has to flow better than a poem by Robert Frost, your plot design has to rival the eye-catching architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the rhythm of your phraseology has to engage the soul like a Beatle’s song, your scenes have to challenge the mind’s eye like a Picasso painting, or your story has to frighten the reader with the tension of an Alfred Hitchcock movie scene.

Face it, there are new hundreds of thousands of books, stories, ebooks, and the like available to the public today. What catches the reader’s imagination? What makes them cringe, laugh, or pucker at what they read – then go back for more? That’s what we as writer have to strive to achieve. Set yourself free. Go over the top. Let the creative juices flow.

Please see my latest ebook, Takeover: A Writer's Nightmare

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