n a recent hey-let’s-all-go-out-to-lunch-together Friday at work, I ended up giving a Libyan fellow and an Indian mom a ride over in my Mini Cooper. Yeah, it was tight and everyone wanted a turn driving the rumm-rumm car about. We had our share of stalls (I won’t say by who) but everyone had a blast driving that little sports car (even overloaded as it was). But the thing that they enjoyed the most was the gear shift.
Yeah, it’s fun. Instead of just driving, now you are part of the process, feeding in gas and slipping the clutch. Nothing feels nicer that running up through the gears (and downshifting to meet a light is a kick too). It’s a mechanical aspect of driving that is pleasurable but overlooked by those who simply shift a minivan from point A to B with a cellphone pasted to their ear.
But it brought to mind the fact that this simple aspect made a normal task all the more enjoyable. They liked shifting.
This can be carried over to our writing. Yes, you can tell a story in some plodding fashion where your character gets up, goes to his detective job, hears a knock, opens the door, gets a case, yawn. Or you can tell it dynamically, in gearbox grind-the-clutch and downshift-around-the-corner fashion. Every sentence you write should try for gearbox words, fun words that hint at inner truths, double meanings or clever observations. Even the phrase I just used, “gearbox words”, is an example of this. Not “descriptive words” or “colorful words” but “gearbox words”. Like using both feet and both hands to make a car go, you need to use twenty fingers, your brain and your creative soul to write.
I’ve heard said that driving without shifting is simply steering. By that concept, writing without creativity is just typing. Now ram your gears home and write like you mean it!