What Do You Want Your Words to Achieve?

This blog post expands on the top tip in Writer's Connect newsletter Issue 61. That tip highlighted the importance of knowing exactly what your words are working towards. If they aren't serving your story, its characters, or building up to something that does, they're no good to you. You need to know what you want your words to do!

Notebook and pen - Writing With Purpose

If You Know Why, You Know What

One of the main benefits of writing with purpose is that it's excellent for generating ideas.

Let's say you're writing a manuscript and are just short of the half-way mark. By this point, your characters and the world they inhabit are fairly functional, and you may even have a rough idea of where it's all heading.

Even so, you're a little unsure of how to progress things from A to B. There's still 50,000 words between you and your desired length, and you're struggling to find a purpose for your characters when they're not engaged in life-or-death struggles.

So how do you find them one?

Put Your Ideas To Work

To move things forward, you might decide to introduce a breakdown in the relationship between your two protagonists.

Problem is, you hadn't planned for this development, and so you haven't done any foreshadowing or groundwork for it. If you just write the scene in which they go their separate ways, it'll be very abrupt and risk feeling forced. To avoid this, you look through your manuscript for interactions between them. You inject some tension here and there and start hinting at the underlying issue that will eventually drive them apart.

You return to the last page, write the scene, and continue advancing the story.

All of a sudden, your writing has purpose. Not only that, but your earlier writing has more purpose!

While your characters are apart, you might write in an experience that makes them want to reunite—or one that solidifies for them that they made the right decision in separating. Maybe one character has the former experience, and the other has the latter. They could become enemies, come back to each other too late, or not reunite at all.

It's All Connected, Man

Going nuclear on your characters' relationships is just one example of an idea that could propel your story forward—but the idea itself is very much secondary to how you integrate it into your writing.

An idea doesn't have to be as big as something that will decide the fate of the known universe. It can be as small as 'this scene is going to be about Person A getting to know Person B better,' or 'Person C's actions in this chapter are going to be the basis for Person D's actions later on.'

The essence of writing with purpose is knowing what your ideas are and leveraging every moment to bring them one step closer to fruition.

If you'd like some help with making that happen, consider taking a look at our book coaching and writing programs or book editing services.

Word of the Day

demure (adj.)

Someone who is demure (usually female) presents as reserved, modest, or well behaved—'presents' being the keyword! Demure can be used to suggest they are polite and subdued by nature, but it can also indicate that they're only acting that way to keep up appearances.

As a child, she'd been demure and hesitant to act.
She played the role of the demure maiden to perfection.

Quotidian Quote

"Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action."
~ Kurt Vonnegut

Get Competitive!

A selection of current writing competitions YOU can enter!

midnight & indigo Short Story Competition

Format: Short story
Theme: Speculative fiction
Word Count: max. 1,500
Entry Fee: Nil
Prize: $200 plus publication
Closes: 30/07/2022

Click here for more details

midnight & indigo - Writing With Purpose

Hastings Book Festival Poetry Competition

Format: Poetry
Theme: Any
Word Count: 40 lines
Entry Fee: £7
Prize: $250
Closes: 31/07/2022

Click here for more details

Hastings Lit Festival

The Growing Pains Project

Format: Any
Theme: Upbringings
Word Count: max. 1,500
Entry Fee: Nil
Prize: Publication
Closes: 31/07/2022

Click here for more details

The Growing Pains Project

The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition

Format: Short story
Theme: Any
Word Count: max. 3,000 words
Entry Fee: €17
Prize: £2,000 plus publication & residency
Closes: 31/07/2022

Click here for more details

The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition


Before you go all-in on an entry for any of the above competitions, it's highly recommended that you look over the fine print to make sure that your submission qualifies and you're happy with the terms of engagement.

To help yourself make an informed decision, the Australian Society of Authors has a highly informative post on their website called 'What to look for in a writing competition's T&Cs' .
To locate the article, click on 'Home', then 'News'.

Photo credit Lum3n, Pexels

Subscribe to 'Writer's Connect' - our fortnightly newsletter

Submit your email address to receive our fortnightly newsletter with writing competitions, writing tips and inspiration.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: