Monday, April 23, 2012

Content is king

The first of the Four C’s - Create.

Coming up with ideas and finding ways to put those ideas to use when writing a novel (or a blog post) can be a confusing and messy process. But there are ways to improve the process and make it enjoyable and profitable to your writing endeavors.

One thing I do to improve the process is to carry the four C’s with me whenever I write, or plan to write, or find myself at 3:00AM with a magical muse making merriment on my mind plate.

The four C’s are:
Create - Collect - Complete - Control

Today I want to focus on the first big C: CREATE.

I’ll get to the others some other day. Maybe.

Writing is meaningless unless you give the reader something meaty to chew on. Thin, stringy, tasteless meat (prose) is... well, it sucks!

Nobody wants to eat stringy ass meat! If I’m eating a steak I want a thick juicy tasty piece of Prime Rib with no gristle and so much flavor I find my lips striking out on a trek to discover the source and creator of all Good Meats even before the plate has arrived at the table!

If you can write a story equal to THAT kind of steak then you are a Chef to be reckoned with! Step off Emeril! Bam!

Whew... that was intense. And now I want a steak. Thanks folks for making me think about steak! Good lord it’s not enough lunch time yet!

But really... the first C, CREATE, is the umbrella C for the most important C under the C umbrella. That littler C is called CONTENT.

Content is the key, or... OK, to stick with the title at the top of the page... Content is KING.

The content of your writing is the only thing that will keep a reader reading. Believe me, without content your readers will be out the door and in the car halfway to the nearest Ruth’s Chris before you can even say “Once upon a time...”

And I can hear you all now, screaming down the cyber hallways... “How do we do it, o might guru? How do we create great content? How do we cook a steak so perfect we make our readers mouths water?”

I will feed you baby birds... oh yes... I will feed you.

First and foremost... START WRITING!

Do it now. Grab a piece of paper or login to your favorite word processor and start writing.

Write your first thoughts. I don’t care if your first thought is how badly you want to strangle me right now.

Write that. Come on... do it... “I want to strangle this guy right now...”


You are on track to making GREAT content.

But there’s more. Oh yes, there is ALWAYS more.

Creating content that is worth reading requires that you SHOW the readers what is happening -- that is, as opposed to TELLING them.

Let me provide you with an example using my beloved character Romy Malloy. 

First, I will show you a bad, horrible, incorrect, not so good way to do it.

“Taxes will be raised on all corporations as well as individuals,” the woman told Romy emphatically.

Now, as far as grammar goes, that’s a good sentence right? (Shut up, you over there...  yes you!)

But as far as good content goes?

Does that SHOW you or TELL you what is happening? You tell me... go ahead, I’ll wait.

Ok I won’t wait. That’s pretty boring crap right there, I’ll tell you what. And all it does is TELL us what is happening. What did it feel like? What did it look like? Why is she being emphatic? Why the hell is she even talking to Romy?

We don’t get any real information from that sentence. And, if that’s what you’re going for, then sure, yea... it works just fine.

But what if you want GOOD content from what you write?

Try this next set of sentences on for size and tell me if you believe they tell show you a better story.

The woman reached out and placed her hand on Romy’s forearm, pressing harder the more she spoke.
“Taxes will be raised on all corporations as well as individuals,” she stated verbatim from the news report they’d both just listened to on the diner’s television.
Romy pulled her arm away and again focused intently on her salad. She hated when people touched her just to make a point. And hell she didn’t even know this lady!

Now there ya go... doesn’t that make you feel a whole lot better, hmm? What you say? I’m just askin!”

Whoa... sorry. Serious flashback to the early 80’s when I would tan on hot summer days with a Sony Walkman blaring the B-52’s into my ears. Wait... what’s a Sony Walkman you ask?


Anyway, to my thinking I believe the second method worked a lot better. And it gets my point across.

Show, don’t tell.

And that’s about all I have to say about that.

Hope you enjoyed it! Leave a comment if you can, because I LOVE hearing from you!



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