Perky Writing Tips and Tricks

Guest blogger of Perky Writing Tips and Tricks, Ursula Nicol, is a University of the Sunshine Coast student. She's completing a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Publishing & Creative Writing. Ursula is currently undertaking a 208-hour internship with Gail Tagarro

From ghost stories to the Halloween holiday, the unnatural is a magic charm in literature. Our minds go bonkers for the things that trigger our imagination to go beyond the mundane! Here are some perky writing tips and tricks to avoid the mundane.

Partake in Intimacy with Details but Not with Clichés

Clichés can hinder your originality. Steering clear of clichés and avoiding the overuse of adjectives and adverbs can make your writing more believable, interesting, and clear.

Intimate details are the secret treasure chest to enriching the quality of your writing.

Being specific with your characterisation and descriptions of setting is what makes it all real in the brain of the beholder. The tiniest actions – your antagonist rubbing his temples, your hero chipping at their nails – can help build the mood of your piece and highlight the turmoil, happiness, anxiety, or fear experienced by your characters.

The subtlest of setting descriptions – flocks of birds fleeing the forest, mosquitoes nibbling at flesh – can give insight into a character’s experience and foreshadow the next event in your story.

Peculiar Characters

Strong characters are driven and sincere. Characters that stand out from the mundane are quirky. Character quirks make them like a rose in a field of daisies; charming, lovable, or even bizarre.

There are some points to bear in mind when considering the quirks of your protagonist or other characters.

  1. There needs to be a reason for the quirk. Does a quirk make a character more likeable compared to other characters, or does it invoke conflict and antagonism? Is this quirk unveiled only under certain circumstances? Does this quirk come from a particular upbringing or trauma? What does this idiosyncrasy mean for your character’s behaviour? Does your character refuse to touch or do certain things because they’re a germaphobe? Do they sing to their cats at breakfast? Quirks can be verbal, like an accent or stutter. What does it mean for their development? A character’s backstory as to why they are the way they are is vital to the story.
  2. If you use experiences as a springboard, you’ll make a bigger splash. Behaviour drawn from real life can create a natural depth in your characters’ personalities. Replicating how real-world people function helps create realistic, memorable characters.
  3. Use character quirks carefully. Too many quirks can make a character feel fake, unrelatable, and disliked by your audience.

Point of View with a Twist

Did you know that you can write from the perspective of a town?

Of course, everyone knows about writing in first person, second person, and third person but what about an entity larger than life?

spooky night scene in city for blog perky writing tips and tricks

No, I don’t mean bounding from viewpoint to viewpoint within the town such as from the bartender’s point of view (POV), the janitor’s, or the cop’s on 5th Avenue. Rather, I’m talking about combining all the characters into a single hive-mind perspective by using the pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we’ to communicate the town’s united population.

In the short story A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner writes about Emily’s life and death from the perspective of her town.

‘So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments…Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, “They are married.” We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.’

The perspective is called first person plural. It is both beguiling and disturbing. Why? Because it’s unnatural. We experience our lives as separate individuals and expect our literature to reflect the same individuality. However, stories like Faulkner’s defy that expectation, shining an ominous light on the ways we all think and act, not just as individuals but as groups and communities.

The unnatural is always fascinating. We humans have a magnetic curiosity to the unusual. Here’s to all the unusual things you might write with these perky writing tips and tricks!

Acknowledgements

Faulkner, William, and M T. Inge. A Rose for Emily. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1970.

Images: Zeeshaan Shabbir and Kat Jayne from Pexels

I hope you’ve learned something from Ursula’s post Perky Writing Tips and Tricks. Wishing you a happy week ahead.


Some Resources

C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing by Corey Latta

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell audiobook

Logo Gail Tagarro Book Writing Coach for perky writing tips and tricks

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