“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
Simply put, writing is an exchange of energy. As an author, you’re transferring energy from yourself to your reader. Think about it: In physics, the bigger an object is and the faster it travels, the greater its impact. The same is true for writing. The more power and punch your words pack, the greater their effect on your reader. The energy your writing projects — its enthusiasm and vitality — affects how it’s received: whether it lands with a bang or a whimper. It makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it, because every piece of writing projects an energy level, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not.
According to Jack Hart, the author of a favorite handbook of mine, A Writer’s Coach, successful writing displays the characteristics of a strong, vibrant human being. In a nutshell, Jack says that writing that packs a punch is:
• Active: it conveys forward motion through active verbs.
• Confident: it gets to the point quickly and boldly.
• Hardworking: every word counts in creating an impact.
• Lean: it’s edited zealously and polished relentlessly.
“Forceful writers aren’t necessarily loud writers,” Jack adds. They’re skilled enough to vary the “pitch” of their writing. Impact isn’t all about volume, it’s about vitality and velocity. Some writers gather momentum slowly, but with devastating emotional results.
Why not test all this out? Take a look at a piece of writing you’re working on right now and ask yourself, “How much energy is this radiating?” Be honest! If the answer is “Not too much,” then try rewriting it using powerful action verbs, shorter sentences, and more direct language — and see what happens. Write on!