Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Honesty

Today's letter in the A to Z Challenge is H.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give any writer out there no matter what they write, is that the most important quality they can put into their writing is honesty. Honesty is what makes your writing yours. It makes it personal. I think when people say that writers need to find their voice, they are basically saying that writers need to peel away all the bullshit in their writing, and let their truth out onto the page.

Here's an example. Say you have a character in a mystery story. Say it's your main character, your private eye or detective or whatever. There are preconceived notions as to what a detective might be. Maybe a hard-boiled gumshoe like Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe or a sweet, yet clever elderly sleuth like Agatha Christie's Jane Marple. These are great characters. I love them! But they're not your characters, and I believe you'd be doing yourself a disservice to imitate them.

Still, say you want a hard-boiled gumshoe. That's fine. But use your own truths, your own hard-fought wisdoms to infuse into your character. Think about your own experiences, your own way of seeing the world. Maybe it's quite different than how Raymond Chandler sees the world. Even if it's not, there's still a lot of you that you can draw out and put into your character that makes him or her unique.

Don't be timid in your writing. That's another part of being honest. You can have timid characters, sure, but don't be timid with their truths.

I think this is also another way of saying 'write what you know.'

Hemingway once said, "It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed."

It's difficult to pull those emotional truths from our souls. It's difficult to be vulnerable on the page.

But that's what will make your writing memorable. That's what will make your writing unique. And that's what will make readers want to come back for more.


  1. YES! This is such an important thing. YOUR OWN VOICE! I also do not like cover models because that takes away from the reader visualizing the characters BRAVO #a2zchallenge..

    1. Thanks. I agree with you about the cover models, too.