Painting a Masterpiece

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You cannot paint an extraordinary piece of art using a single color; thus you cannot write an extraordinary story by using a certain collaboration of words.

Each of us have seen a painting sometime in our life, whether a famous piece displayed in a museum or a child’s creation taped to a refrigerator. We are attracted to beautiful images, such as Monet’s Water Lilies, and repulsed by stick-figures drawn on a piece of construction-paper. We know what is visually appealing—color, complexity and depth. Without any of those three elements, an artist struggles to masterfully create and “extraordinary” piece of art. The same concept applies to writing. An author needs color, complexity and depth to masterfully create an “extraordinary” story.

To both a reader and writer, vocabulary is color. It adds emotion and depth, complexity and visualization. A single word has the potential to paint an image.

During the editing-process of my second novel, I was confronted with the suggestion to “remove” the more difficult vocabulary from my book to make it an easy-read for teenagers and adults. The suggestion was valid. Why shouldn’t I want my books to be “easy reads”?

After a day of pondering the suggestion, I decided to keep my vocabulary. I’m an author and an artist. My novels are paintings. Why should I paint with one color when I have millions of various shades at my fingertips? I want my readers to understand the stories I write; but I also want to challenge them to see a different color, experience a new level of complexity.

Some tips on how to add color to your writing:

  1. Research and collaborate a list of your favorite words. Refer to the list while you write. This is an easy way to keep your pallet full of paint.
  2. Never settle for overused vocabulary! If what you’re trying to convey doesn’t match the word you’re considering, find a synonym!
  3. Download a dictionary onto your mobile-device.
  4. If you’re writing a story, visualize your setting and look for small details to describe. A creative description is also a wonderful way to add a burst of color to your work.
  5. Be brave. Take chances. If you dislike the outcome, edit.

Books are paintings. Vocabulary is color. Your hands are brushes, and you are an artist.

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