Monday, August 23, 2010


By Lisa Dale

If you want to enchant your audiences, considering upping your writing game and exploring deeper ideas in your fiction.  It doesn't matter if you're writing thrillers, mysteries, romances, science fiction, or erotica. The potential for writing truly meaningful stories or novels is there. If you're writing about humans (or even human-like non-humans), your plot is primed for real insight. Here are some techniques that may help inspire you to tackle meaningful issues.

Pay attention. To deepen your writing, you also need to deepen your experience of your own life. Are you paying attention? Watch for the details. When you see something that strikes you as interesting, stop. Think deeply about why it's interesting to you. Don't just say "it's interesting because it is." Dig deep. The results will show in your writing.

Read. If you are reading widely, your writing will show it. You'll have better techniques and a bigger worldview. Read in as many genres as possible-not just the ones that you're comfortable with. If your usual genre is mystery, challenge yourself to read science fiction. Get out of your reading comfort zone, and your readers will thank you.

What scares you? Think of the things that scare you most. Losing money? Dinosaurs? Clowns? Or are you scared by the issues: loss of human rights, gross unfairness in the coffee trade, environmental hazards. Fear plays a part in every plot in some way. Are you digging deep enough into what it means to be afraid?

Grace. In our lives, we all experience moments of unexpected grace. Grace brings us startling insight into ourselves or others. Grace can show us fundamental human decency. Grace can be forgiveness, self-realization, clarity, joy, and certainty. The best moments of grace in fiction come when they are least expected. What does grace mean to you? Do your characters experience unexpected grace?

Slow down. To write thoughtful fiction, you can't expect to write fast fiction. If you're shooting for X number of pages each day, chances are you're more focused on meeting an artificial goal than you are on writing unique, special, insightful content. When you slow down and explore all the various nooks and crannies (possibilities) for a given scene, you often deepen that scene. You may not get to the finish line quickly, but you'll be dancing as you go.♥

Lisa Dale's new novel, SLOW DANCING ON PRICE'S PIER, arrives from Berkley in 2011. More at


  1. All great points -- particularly slowing down and exploring a scene. Thank you!

  2. I absolutely agree with you Lisa. When you slow down, and concentrate more on quality vs. quanity, there is a difference in your first draft.

  3. Brilliant and insightful post, Lisa. I heartily agree that we should never abandon an opportunity to cause our readers to reflect. Entertainment need not be insignificant. I am particularly pleased whenever I come across a novel where the author addresses mental retardation (as my brother is brain damaged). Or skillfully includes issues I care about like women's issuse, children's issues, environmental issues or animal rights. Thank you for such a thought provoking post.

  4. Excellent advice that really focuses on ways to enrich our writing!

  5. Thanks so much for your comments, ladies. I absolutely love this group. It's such a pleasure to get you know you all!



  6. Great advice Lisa. I wish I had time to read novels, I only have time to read articles! I actually avoid reading certain genres because I don't want to pick up an author's style or voice (my mind is like a sponge when it reads good plots or dialogue).

    Karen S.