Recently, working with an author client, I had to use a real bummer of a phrase about her writing--yes, I said it was "half-hearted." That might not sound bad to you, but it's a cardinal sin for writers. Nothing turns off an editor or agent (or ultimately, a reader), like writing that feels tepid or warmed-over.
So, take chances--raise the stakes--make it more important.
If someone is coming to the end of a job, a marriage, or a friendship--make today the day that it ends. Show us what happens to precipitate that demise.
If your protagonist needs to have an epiphany, don't water it down--make it a real "come to Jesus" moment!
If you're writing about someone falling in love, write about the moment they realize it. Don't let them muse about how they "guess they had really sort of started to realize it" last week.
And let's all be careful of all those casual modifiers we use in speech (that are perfectly fine, when you're talking) such as those I used in the example above, as well as "kind of" and "might" and "a little bit." Who wants to read about someone who "might be, a little bit, sort of" falling in love? Or "kind of beginning to think she might be ready" to quit her job?
Use definite language--make your characters take a stand.
And don't use everyday words for extraordinary situations--try using words that sparkle, and resonate, and provoke.
Finding ways to "up the ante" for your characters, and using lively and exciting language, gives your writing more oomph--not to mention, it's fun and challenging. And isn't that what being a writer is all about?
See you soon at the Southern California Writers Conference--for more on SCWC, click here.