When learning the fundamentals of English grammar, one memorizes the definitions of “noun” and “verb.” Those two words take on more significance when one becomes a fiction writer. At that point one learns about VIVID nouns and ACTION verbs to write the simplest sentences with the fewest qualifiers possible, sentences that will translate story and characters into mental images for the reader. Those images allow the reader to vicariously LIVE the story events WITH the characters. The entertaining story takes on a credible life that provides moments and even hours of escape from the real world. But there is more to writing than vivid nouns and action verbs.
I learned that simplistic lesson when I was taught to deliberately manipulate the PARTS of writing called Exposition, Description, Narration and Action-Dialogue or E.D.N.A. At that point I truly became a writer. I no longer spewed mere sentences, but carved carefully expressed prose. I understood each word and each sentence served a definitive purpose. The result was the evolution of my unique “writing voice.”
As I mastered the four “Elements of Prose” about five years into my career, I discovered my writing took on a subtle power. That awareness was a turning point in my writing life. I no longer functioned as a simple craftsman. I graduated to a level where I consistently produced well-crafted stories. Not brag, just fact. I understood exactly how to use my writing voice.
Then I was shocked to discover not all other writers shared my awareness of the PURPOSE of these four elements. Some knew the definitions, of course, but did not realistically KNOW how to focus awareness in their own writing process They did not deliberately fashion the rhythm of ebb-and-flow variety.
Most other writers I talked with were happy to just produce some kind of story populated by transparent characters. I couldn’t understand how they didn’t see what was incredibly obvious: Powerful writing results from deliberate manipulation of language. Each word must serve a definitive purpose! The more one writes with that in mind, the faster and cleaner the writing. The end product requires less revision. Awareness of the four elements of prose absolutely IGNITED MY FICTION!
Subsequent to that conflagration moment, I incorporated in-depth explanations of the four elements in my writing lectures. Can you guess what happened? Yep, other writers were set on fire with the same awareness and enthusiasm I experienced.
I now have the opportunity to again explain how one deliberately considers and structures each of the four elements as words pour from the creative mind. I want to share this simple yet profound process with every writer I encounter. My fervent prayer is that each and every one who listens then attacks their own writing with the same confidence and “fire-wheel” fervor that I enjoy day in-day out.
Exposition, Description, Narration, Action-Dialogue or E.D.N.A. concepts await you! I will be teaching them throughout the month of June in the “Ignite Your Fiction” course through Savvy Authors.
Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines. With 30 screenplays written, she has a WGA-signatory agent marketing those. Aside from long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she just finished a four-year term as President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild. She still has time to work as a small press Editorial Director. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 25 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston , NE.