|In the period May 2003 til
December 2003 I entered seven writing contests. I
short listed in five and placed second in two of
It was all a
major shock to me. I always thought my writing
was fairly mediocre; nothing special, and
certainly nothing spectacular.
It all began when my writing
group ran a workshop called "Taking Risks
with your Writing" about three years ago.
Like most writers, I love to
read. I still recall hiding under the covers with
a torch (flashlight) most nights, and being
roused out around midnight by my parents to get
to sleep. But I usually read the same sort of
books over and over. Nancy Drew was my favourite
in those early years, then as I grew into my
teenage years, Agatha Christie took over. These
days, my absolute favourite author is Australian
writer, Peter Corris.
Are you beginning to see a
pattern here? All these books are mysteries of
one sort or another.
So what, I hear you say.
The point is, I mainly read one
type of book.
At the workshop we were
encouraged to read genres we wouldnt
normally read, and to write material we
wouldnt normally write, or hadnt read
that much. So thats exactly what I did.
I read fantasy, comedy, sci-fi,
suspense, crime, romantic suspense, romance. I
even read some heavy literature. And
you know what? I liked them. In fact, I liked
them so much that I decided to start writing
across genres, to give myself permission
to write in a whole new way; to evoke a totally
new voice, and to write what I liked to write,
rather than what was expected.
The next step I took was to
analyse other successful writers work. What
was it they did that I didnt?
successful Stephanie Plum books were high on my
hit list. So I read them, and read them, and read
them. They were funny, they were pacy, and they
Finally, I had that long
awaited ah-ha! moment. It had to
happen eventually; at long last, the little light
bulb lit up.
Janet Evanovich wrote what
people didnt expect.
I began a new journey. I turned
my methods around; I began to spatter humour into
my writing, to create larger than life
characters, and I began to think outside
the square. When I wrote something
ordinary, mundane, or expected, I would sit down
and brainstorm better outcomes. I refused to
write to formula and I always endeavoured to
surprise the reader.
I now have a very unique voice,
one that differs with everything I write. While
Im writing, as my plots unfold, one part of
my brain is screaming be different, be
unique! as I type. And it works.
Prior to that evocative
workshop, it was intimated that I needed to have
one voice, one style, and write in one genre.
Well, too bad I
dont, and I wont!
As a new writer, other people
placed many restrictions on me:
"Romance is written to
"You cant combine
romance with comedy."
"Comedy and mystery just
"First person writing
isnt acceptable these days."
What a load of old rubbish!
As a much more experienced
writer, I put a hex on all this restrictive
nonsense. Its a little like having steak
and three veg for dinner every night; you quickly
get sick of the same meal night after night. Well
dear writers, your readers tire of the same
ol same ol in every book they pick
So what am I suggesting?
Dont write to formula; dont write the
same as the last writer, and the next writer, and
Use stunning first sentences,
exploit strange and weird endings - dare to be
different; get your work published, win that
contest, and earn that book contract.
author: Cheryl Wright
is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In
addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the
Writer2Writer.com website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for
writers. Her publications include novels, non-fiction books,
short stories, and articles. To keep up to date with her
publications and new releases, visit Cheryl’s website