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Dan's Thoughts on Writing and other Odds 'n Ends


Sound Off

Many writers, especially beginning writers, face and often succumb to a desire that proves devastating to achieving their writing goal – they want the piece to “sound right.”  This desire affects novelists, short story writers, copywriters, business writers, and people just trying to communicate by letter, memo or e-mail. The result is always the same; a watered-down, less-effective, weaker written product.

Making something “sound right” usually means transforming your style by forcing your writing into the style of someone else because you think:

            This is what the boss will like.

            I need to sound like Stephen King.

            It worked for Shakespeare; it’ll work for me.

The problem is basic. Whether you’re writing an article, a commercial, a novel or whatever, you are you.  You’re not Stephen King, William Shakespeare or the guy who approves copy over at corporate HQ. You bust your literary butt on the first draft. You pour your heart, mind and soul into whatever-the-hell it is that you’re writing and then… immediately start transforming it into something else.


Because you don’t trust your instincts. “I’m new at this. I can’t be any good. I’d better play it safe and copy somebody else.”


Your first draft is your best draft because it is the closest to your heart. It is the closest to you and it has the most passion and commitment. Every time you revise the style you take a little more of you out of your work. Every time you revise your style you put in a little more of a watered-down version of someone else.

Trust your gut. Unless you’re hired to write in a specific style, write it the way you think it should be written. And then let it go. That’s how a writer develops his own style. And that’s the only style that “sounds right.”