“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”
I love this psalm and for some reason, I enjoy thinking of writing as a way of “making a joyful noise” — of sharing ideas and stories with the rest of the world or our corner of it that we find pleasure and fulfillment in creating. So many people talk about writing in terms of blocks and stress and angst that I think we forget the playful, joyful side of scrivening (see Joyous Writing).
Just recently, I read a very helpful article called “Enjoy Revision” by Jodell Sadler on her Web site, Sadler Children’s Literary. In the article, Jodell discusses using 5Ps” to tighten and improve a story: Pacing, Prosody, Poetry, Play, and Performance. Here’s one comment that caught my eye: Play is what’s most often “missing from a manuscript. When agents and editors receive novels as submission[s], they often feel ‘stiffish’ because they lack that fluidity of language and trust that an author must have to really let go and free themselves with words. In any given piece of writing, there need to be moments that shine.”
What a wonderful way to capture the importance of play in writing! How do we bring more of this quality to our work? Jodell has a few suggestions that might prove helpful:
Trust your writing voice enough to kick your editor off your shoulder and don’t hold back. Focus on giving your readers authentic moments — on connecting with them emotionally scene by scene. Use all the tools in your kit bag to make your writing inventive and fresh. Just one example: you can use repetition creatively to have fun along with your reader while also echoing different moments in your story.
Do you have any playful techniques you’ve used to engage your readers in fresh and exciting ways? If so, I’d love to hear them. Write on!