Zip, Pow and Zing

That’s what you want your story to have. To capture the reader so thoroughly they can’t put the book down. But how do you do that? Or worse, how do you tell someone else how to do it?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a couple of weeks now, you know we’re in the middle of our unpublished author contest. I’ve read some entries that just blew me away. They wowed me with their clever phrasing, awesome descriptions and deep emotions. They sucked me in and didn’t turn me loose. I loved it. And wondered if my own work had the same wow factor. If not, how do I get it?

Um, not easily. I can practically guarantee you these people have been writing. A lot. They’ve studied the craft, gone to workshops and conferences, spent hours sweating over their work and have found their voice. Which is what makes their stories so unique.

When I read entries that still need a lot of work, I struggle on how to correct them, yet give them encouragement. One of the things I tell them is to find an author they like and rip their books apart. What drew them in? What made them keep turning the pages until they reached the HEA at the end? Try to emulate that author. At least until they find their own voice.

But what I try to instill on them most is….


And one day they, too, will find their stories have the zip, pow and zing factor that keeps the reader coming back time and time again.


8 thoughts on “Zip, Pow and Zing

  1. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I try to put myself in their place. Heck. I’ve BEEN in their place! All I have to do is pull out my first manuscript to see just how much my writing has improved. All because of good feedback from contests (once I learned what was good and what wasn’t), and good critique partners.

  2. Linda,

    I think the hardest thing for a writer to do is ‘find their voice’. You can look too hard at authors you love, and try too hard to emulate their writing. Down this path lay poor performance. The ones that ‘pop’, that seem so like you’re reading a bound book… those are the ones who’ve done the work and gone the distance. I like those entries. spw

    • It IS hard to find your voice and the only way to do that is to keep writing. Having said that, I’ll admit to trying to copy some of my favorite authors (to a certain degree). I didn’t do it for long, maybe because I have a short attention span. 🙂 But by trying to emulate several DIFFERENT authors, I eventually found my own voice and style. I used them as a learning tool, nothing more. Also, it taught me some of the do’s and don’t’s of the craft.

  3. I love those entries that just grab you and make you forget you’re supposed to be judging/scoring, not reading for pure pleasure. I had one last night that was so good, I did a little dance when I was finished with it. So rare and so indescribably lovely!

    • Oh, I love those! I’ve had a couple that really drew me in. Makes the scoring easy, too. The comments go: Great, Fantastic, Love it, Good job. Easy-peasy. 🙂

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