Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because it allows you to become someone else. And when you’re writing, a lot of the times, it’s like you’re putting on a costume. Think of it this way. Often times, when you’re narrating a story, you’re not narrating as yourself – you’re narrating as the protagonist. Maybe the protagonist is a completely different person; maybe the protagonist is a different version of yourself.
I think when we’re writing we take on parts of everything that we’ve ever read or seen or experienced. There are obvious things that affect us like our favorite TV show that we follow religiously or the book we insist all of our friends read. And then there are the more subtle things like the sound of traffic outside while we struggle through a first draft or the billboard we happened to glance at on the way to somewhere more important. For example, this post was inspired by two things. The date (I started drafting on Halloween) and the fact that the girl sitting next to me in my English class had an awesome makeup palette out as she touched up the makeup for her costume. We find inspiration with and without intent, and it amazes me that everything I’ve ever said was partially inspired by someone else.
Of course, after you get your inspiration, there still lies the daunting task of constructing a piece of writing that serves a purpose. Whatever you want to convey is up to you, but there are a number of tactics that writers use to get their message across. I like to call this the writer’s palette. First there’s the diction, or the type of words you use. Diction depends on your audience: a report for your AP biology class is going to sound a lot different than your weekly blog post. Next comes syntax, which is how you arrange your words – and there are a lot of options. I recently learned there’s an unbelievable amount of sentence types. There’s a periodic sentence, where you say your main point first and then follow it up with supporting information. If you put the important information first, that’s a loose sentence. All these decisions, word choice, word placement, whatever, contribute to the overall style of your piece. Writing is an art and we can mix and blend mediums however we see fit. That’s one of the things I love most about the writer’s palette.