Jul 29, 2011

The Little Pieces We Create

By Jolene Perry

When I cook I rarely use a recipe, and even when I do I take it as a guideline… unless I’m baking. But even then, I guess on teaspoons and tablespoons and that kind of thing. What does this have to do with writing?

Nothing yet.

You’ll have to stick with me for a little longer.

When I was in high school, I helped my mom clean out her spices. I remember finally taking the time to smell each one, and I started to understand why chili powder, cumin and oregano work to make yummy taco meat. The more I smelled, the more I wanted to experiment. Now, as I’m cooking, I know when I should use white pepper instead of black pepper, or powdered garlic instead of minced garlic. In the end, it’s those subtle additions that make the difference.

And NOW I’ll talk about writing.

When I read, I study language more than anything else. Building stories I can do. I may not be the best, but I can do it. It’s the language that fascinates me. The way some people put words together – Sarah Ockler, Marisa De Los Santos, John Green, Jandy Nelson… I could go on.

So when I look at my own writing, it feels bland… too soupy…

I remember when I first heard someone say that you really do need to actually look at each sentence in your book. Does it say what you need it to say, does it say more? Does it say less? Am I using my brain and the tools I have to write the best way I know how?

Do I have a point with this post?

I have no idea.

But I’d like to think that my point is that we all have a style and a way we like to do things, but there will always be ways to be better, to learn from writers around us, whether they be famous published authors, friends, or both ;D

Next time you go to edit, work on one page, look at the words you’ve put together. Pay attention to the small details, the subtle flavors and all of the little things that make your writing particular to YOU.

Happy writing people :D


  1. Jolene this is vital in non fiction work. One wrong word can change the meaning completely. My fav examples in non fiction are instructions. When they start with the slot A into slot C and you're thinking where's slot B????

  2. Subtle flavors: very good analogy to writing. It IS the small details that are important. It takes so much time to focus on each sentence, but it has to be done if you want a good finished product.

    I found you in a roundabout way via Twitter. This looks like a very interesting eclectic group of LDS writers.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  3. I love your analogy, Jolene. Every word does count! hugs~


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