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Friday, April 04, 2014

7 Tips to Help You Focus Your Writer’s Eye

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Writers tend to be observant.
Capturing the World in Words

By and large writers are an observant lot. Things others might brush over or miss entirely stay with us, sparking ideas that blossom and grow. An overheard conversation can lead us to the plot of entire book.

But like any skill that comes naturally, there's still room for improvement. I call it focusing the writer’s eye. Today I want to give you seven tips to help you focus your writer's eye.

1. Stop hearing, and take time to listen. The world around us is filled with words. So much so that it becomes a kind of white noise. As writers we need to be able to pick out the bits and pieces that resonate with the souls of our audience.

The spoken word can have a lyrical quality,
it's our job capture that music on the page.
2. Search out the music. The spoken word can have a lyrical quality. As writers it’s our job to capture that music on the page. Develop an ear for the cadence in words and sentences.

3. Take what’s being said—not what’s meant—and follow it an unexpected end. For example, I overheard someone talk about another person’s downfail. No that’s not a typo, I meant to write DOWNFAIL. From the context, I know he meant to use the word, DOWNFALL. But that lead me to a cool devotion on the difference between the two concepts.

4. Paint a picture . . . with words. Look at something that intrigues you, or inspires you, and recreate it in words. Try to boil it down to the essence in a way that others can experience what you did.

Expand your horizons and stretch your creative muscles.
5. Expand your horizons. I’ve heard it said that the English language is limiting because it’s not a large language. There just aren’t as many words as in other languages. That may be true, but while the average adult is said to have a vocabulary of between 20,000 – 30,000 words, they probably only use about 5000. As writers, we need to strive to be above average. As a matter of fact, it’s my opinion we should set standard.

6. Stretch your creative muscles. Along with number 5 above, don’t just stick with what you know and do well. Stretch yourself by venturing beyond your comfort zone. If your chosen field is fiction, try writing poetry. If you are most comfortable with non-fiction, give writing short stories a try. You may not choose to add that skill to your repertoire, but what you do write will be richer because you branched out.

7. Practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what discipline, every artist will tell you it takes time to become proficient with your medium. This is just as true with words. Get familiar with your medium. Take time to learn the nuances, master the graceful ins and outs of language.

What are some things you do to help you see the world around you in such a way that you can capture it on the page? Share your own tips here. 


  1. Focus is everything :-) Great post Edie.

  2. Use an ordinary excursion (i.e. running errands) and compose sentences in your head to depict a scene, an action, a person, an observation. I do it unconsciously at times . . . living in sentences and paragraphs. ;)

    1. Nicole, "living in sentences and paragraphs" what a GREAT word picture of a writer!

  3. I often observe people when in public places. I make mental notes of their features...what makes that person look different from the person sitting next to him/her. Also comparatives--what is their relationship. Could they be sisters, mother/daughter, husband-wife? How can I tell their relationship beyond physical appearance? How do they interact with one another?

    1. Brenda, people watching is the bread and butter of a writer's diet!

  4. Focus is everything. Something I lack from time to time. Thanks so much for the encouraging post!

    1. You are right, focus is everything...and it's the bardes!

  5. Thanks for an excellent post, Edie. For me as a fiction writer, blogging has been a stretching experience and one that draws me into what I call "real world writing."

    1. Blogging can help stretch us, that's for sure!


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