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How Good Writing is like Sizzling Passion: Lessons in Foreplay, Trust and Intimacy

Your book writing coach

Yesterday, I edited a chapter from one of my students in my Bring Your Book to Life Program. With her permission I share her mistakes–mistakes that I made when I first started and mistakes many novice authors make.

Ironically, her book teaches women about sexual intimacy (and how to reignite passion in their marriage) and yet her errors—so common to many new aspiring authors—went against many of her top lessons about foreplay, trust and intimacy.

Here then are 3 Rules of Good Writing right out of her passion toolkit :

1. Know Where to Start:

Foreplay is about what will turn your partner on.  So, what will turn your reader onto what they’re reading?

This author began chapter one with a dialogue without any action or description.  I needed to meet the author first, or meet the couple who were arguing—at least be able to picture them.

Think about what your reader needs from you so they will be compelled by the material and committed to reading further.

writing coach lisa tener
Take off those sunglasses and establish some real intimacy with your reader. Much as I like this photo (maybe because the glasses hide my wrinkles) I had never used it in a blog post until now--because the sunglasses get in the way of intimacy. They send the wrong message.

2. Get Intimate with Your Reader:

Good writing is about relationship. As an author, you are developing a relationship with your readers. Readers, plural, but one at a time. Readers don’t want to think of themselves as a mob. As a reader, I am most seduced by a writer to addresses me as “You.”

I often find new writers address their readers as, “Many of you…” as in, “Many of you will see yourself in these stories.”

I asked my student to imagine saying, “Many of you…” to her husband in bed.

As a writer, you are establishing a relationship with your reader, an intimate relationship—the more intimate the better.

Instead of addressing your readers as, “Many of you…” if you are afraid to make an assumption about all readers, just say, “You may see yourself in these stories….” Or “If you see yourself in these stories…”

Just say, “YOU.”

If you think about your reader as a person, rather than a mob, that will come through in your writing—and your reader will feel a stronger connection to you.

3. Trust Your Reader:

Don’t do what I just did two sentences ago: Do not capitalize, underline or bold words just to emphasize them. Trust your reader.

In a blog, for visual purposes, you may want to bold, underline or color certain words. That can help keep the blog post visually interesting.

However, when writing a book, even a how-to book, you must trust your reader to understand which words to emphasize.  Occasionally, if it really helps clarify, you can italicize a word, but I’d save that for a definition or something akin to defining a word.

For a bullet list, such as a list of instructions, you can bold certain phrases that begin a bullet or numbered list. But don’t bold or capitalize a word just to emphasize. Use bold more for a visual effect and to organize the material.

Now you’re ready for some sizzlingwriting.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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Comments

  1. Mary Kaye says

    Thanks for the insight. I’m going to take a look at my book in progress because I’m sure I’ve said “Many women” instead of just “you”. I’m writing a book for at-home moms who want to return to work and while it is important that they feel they’re part of a community of women doing the same thing, I want each woman to feel that I am speaking straight to her. The husband in bed analogy drove your point home. Thanks.

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