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The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, “Awww!”
The above is from a novel published in 1957, one that still sells tens of thousands of copies a year—On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Not only is that clip about fireworks, but it also demonstrates the power of fireworks in fiction. It’s the heat and heart that produces an unforgettable reading experience.
It’s the kind of writing that makes them all go, “Awww!”
How can you get that into your fiction? As Red Smith, the famous sports writer said, “There’s nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
It means having skin in the game—having a heart for your material. If you don’t feel it, the reader won’t.
Craft your message
But to the feeling you must add the craft. Sometimes writers think that because they have a message they believe in, or a concept that excites them, that’s enough. It’s not.
You must translate that into a story readers can relate to, and that’s what the craft—fashioning plot, structure, characters, dialogue, description—is about.
Put it all together to get the spark that ignites fireworks.
Let the show begin.
A best-selling suspense writer, former trial lawyer, and fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest, Jim’s books on craft, Plot & Structure, Revision & Self-Editing, and The Art of War for Writers are three of the most popular writing books.