Here be adjectives

Ailene smiling and holding up a paperback copy of her book, The Faring Light Letters.

“Too many adjectives.”

That was the charge most often laid against my writing. To be fair, they weren’t wrong. It was never just “a horse”.

When I was 13, it was a stallion with a fine head and coal-black coat that glistened in the golden rays of dappled sunlight. At 14, the horse’s silver-shod hooves left tracks in the dewy grass. When I was 15, there was a rider (of course)—shining black hair blown back by the wind made by his powerful steed’s swift stride, ebony eyes shining like fire.

Unfortunately, it was a dashed slippery slope, down through “better take that adjective out … that one too. Aaaand that one too”, past “nope, that doesn’t sound right”, all the way to, “argh, my writing sucks.” And blam!—there’s rock bottom with, “I suck.”

Even now, 30 revolutions around the sun later, having just published The Book I Always Wanted To Write, the voices are still in my head.

But here’s what I’ve found: the best way to get past inner critical voices like these is to have a clear intention about WHY you’re creating your thing.

Or, what Lisa Sonora at Visual Journal Studio calls Clarity.

Or, what my book coach, Vicky Quinn Fraser, jokingly calls her “top secret, exclusive 2-step process for writing your book”. If you can answer YES to both of these questions, there’s your idea.

1. Does this sound fun for me to create?

For my book, when this paragraph turned up under the heading of Synopsis, it made the answer to this question a resounding YES!

And yes, all my stories sound like something by heroine adventurers like Adele Blanc-Sec or Lady Isabella Trent. And yes, it’s totally magical realism—set modern day but with mermaids, fire dancers, and dragons. I’m weaving in all the fantasy stories I’ve written over the years into my own memoir of sorts.

Excerpt from my Big MicroBook Idea + Synopsis

2. Is it going to help people? Or entertain them? Or otherwise enhance their life?

Or, to put it other way, I had Things To Say.

I had things to say about going through life events that throw your life so topsy-turvy you have to start anew.

I had things to say about wanting to connect to your own magic and live your own story.

I had things to say about picking up new dreams—and also having to leave dreams behind.

I had things to say about asking yourself “who do I want to practice being?” and learning to follow the YES.

And, I had things to say about how the world would be a kinder place if people stopped to think that asking about children might be painful.

There are far too many stories where the ultimate happily ever after is marriage and babies. Or worse, where the heroine is all, “I can’t have kids”, and 2.78 seconds later, she’s pregnant. I joined an online artist community a while back and the ‘get to know you’ question was “how many children do you have?” (what does that have to do with art?!)

Rant Excerpt from my Big MicroBook Idea + Synopsis

Also, stories about dragons are always entertaining! (Especially a dragon named Imp who lives up to her name).

It turns out that when you’re having fun creating and putting something in the world to help, entertain, or otherwise enhance someone’s life, it doesn’t matter how many adjectives you use. You simply write what you need to say.

And here it is: my fantastically-fun-to-create, entertaining, and hopefully life enhancing book:

Ailene smiling and holding up a paperback copy of her book, The Faring Light Letters.

P.S. If you’d like more tips on dealing with those inner critical voices, my new 2-week email series will help make creating feel good again. It’s 100% free—you’ll be arting more, writing more, designing more, dancing more, and creating more in no time!

P.P.S. If you have an idea for a book that answers YES these 2 questions, my book coach, Vicky Quinn Fraser is running MicroBook Magic again soon (not an affiliate link—I just had such a grand time and Vicky made the process so simple and fun, I highly recommend).



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