Reviews & Writing

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And then he saw...Blah, Blah, Blah

They should make more of these.
Brevity is Key

Shorter is always better when it comes to writing. Makes things less redundant, faster to read, cheaper to publish. The benefits of brevity are overwhelming.

So, keep your work as tight as possible.

A Common Error 

I see many writers making a common mistake these days. Even professionals.

Don't push the red button.
When you're writing from one character's POV you don't have to tell me "he looked," or "he felt," or "he heard." I already know that. Everyone knows that.

We're in the character's head. If a car is being described, we know he or she is looking at it. If its engine roars, we know he or she is listening. If its door handle is smooth, we know he or she is feeling.

Why state the obvious? Why state it multiple times?

There's no reason. Don't even waste time coordinating your brain cells to find one.

It's Better

In case you're still tempted to write all those things I just said you shouldn't, let's look at a few examples.(Actually, let's just look at one.)

Bad Way: "He looked at the black car, heard its engine roar, felt the wind lash out at him as it sped past. He coughed, tasting the black exhaust on his tongue."

(Wow. That was just horrible)

Good way: "The black car sped past him, engine roaring, its trail of wind lashing out. He coughed, black exhaust on his tongue."

(That was so beautiful.)

Concession

To be fair, there is nothing "wrong" about using "he/she looked" or "he/she heard," or "he/she felt," when describing the POV. That's why most writers do it. Why they keep doing it.

But there is NOTHING effective about it.

So unless you are describing other characters, avoid those phrases like a rattle snake in the desert.

And keep your writing tight. Keep your writing great.

It may look nice. It isn't.

6 comments:

  1. I imagine the same rules apply to "I heard, I saw, I felt" when writing in first person? LOVE this. You are a brilliant writer. With awesome advice.

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  2. Good point! I'm guilty of doing this, I know. I'll keep an eye out for it when I'm editing my NaNoWriMo novel this year.

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  3. Thanks!

    I always see this stuff a lot.

    Scratch that:

    Often times we'll see this kind of scribbling being used in various mediums.

    ("A lot" is something else everyone writes too)

    Thanks,

    Daryl

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  4. Dmytry here:

    Kimberly: You are right. This applies to all types of point of veiw.

    Angela Perry: Good luck with NaNo. It's intense.

    Daryl Sedore: Great point with "a lot". I'd only use it in dialogue, or if trying to sound conversational.

    Glad you all liked the post.

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  5. Great post! I have caught myself doing this a lot lately and I try not to. To me, it's just extra word usage. I agree; all this does is restate the obvious. I need to trust my readers a little more.

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  6. Agree 100% This is one issue I do have with NaNoWriMo (don't get me wrong, I am a participant and I adore it and think it's a great idea) but so many people get wrapped up in word count that they toss in unnecessary words the distract from the story. Every single word should be building towards the ending, if a word isn't doing that. It isn't needed.

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