Finding Spark

- by Tawny Weber

As a reader and a writer, there’s nothing I love more than reading something that sparkles.  Not with glitter, ala pixie dust fun (although that would be cool, huh?).  I mean that special something that brings the words to life, makes the characters seem real and gives the reader that sense of Wow-connection.  I call that spark.

Some writers do it with intense plots that have the reader holding their breath in anticipation of what comes next.  Others create characters that touch hearts and live in the minds of readers long after the cover is closed.  There’s suspense spark, humors spark, sexy spark – the list could go on forever.  For me, because I’m not an analytical reader, it’s never easy to pinpoint just what creates spark on a page.  I just know it when I feel it.

As a writer, it’s a little easier.  I know when my writing seems to spark – it’s that special feeling that the words just work.  It all comes together and has an edge.  It’s not comfortable, it’s not that “oooh that was easy to write” feeling (that usually means I didn’t work hard enough *g*).  If I had to give it a label, it would be love.  Loving something about the story, for me, gives it life-or spark.  If I fall in love with the characters, or I’m so intensely connected to the story and how it plays out, that shows in my pages.  If I believe in the story, if I’m emotionally invested, that comes through on the pages.

To all the writers out there, when you write, what’s going through your head as you put words to page.  Yes, I know the story is there in the forefront –that’s what you’re typing, right?  But what’s happening in the background?  Doubts?  Irritation or apathy?  Are you thinking ‘this one is it’?  Or are you rereading your latest rejection letter or bad review?  IMO, nothing’s better at smothering spark than negativity.  Some tools I use when I wrote to keep my focus on the story and not the chattering background voice is music.  It just drowns them out *g*.  Other ideas are to write down all the worries before you start writing, then rip them to shreds.  They have no place in your writing time.  Hey, there are plenty of other hours during the day to worry, right?  Just not while you’re writing.

Another spark killer?  Feedback.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love feedback as much as the next person (especially good feedback LOL).  But there was a time that I entered a lot of contests looking for feedback and I learned fast that if I took everyone’s advice/comments and changed my story to suit those, it would be a sparkless as a glass of tepid water.  As much as I respect other’s opinions, the bottom line is the story has to resonate for me.  I take two opinions into account when I write – two people that know my writing, know my voice and totally believe in my stories.  My CP, and my editor.  That’s not to say that I don’t respect reviews and feedback – I do.  I store it all, I consider what clicked or didn’t click for readers, and try to keep that in mind as I work on my next story.  But the bottom line is it always has to spark for me first.

So how about you?  Do you recognize spark when you read?  Are there stories that just jump to life off the pages for you?  How about in your writing?  Can you see when it’s there?  Do you have ideas for bringing more spark to your pages?

3 comments

  1. Such a great post, Tawny! Spark for me is how I feel about the characters, especially when I am writing them. When I can say, “I just love this character, even though he is an idiot”, that’s spark for me. Being able to see/feel the characters as real people, coming allive on the page. I think that is one of the best parts about writing.

  2. Loved the post, Tawny! I can see spark in my own writing but it’s usually not until I’ve gone over a page a second or third time. I’m working on getting that spark on the page earlier but as long as it shows up at all, I’m happy :-)

    Getting your feedback always helps me. Sometimes I just need to know if I’m heading in the right direction or not *g*

  3. Great post! The word “spark” just hits it right for so many things. And it does apply across all genres and styles. If there is no spark, the writing falls flat, whether it’s plot driven or character driven, fantasy or reality, mass market or literary. I’m going to link to this one!