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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#IWSG: Tighten Your Writing


Time for 2015's first Insecure Writer's Support Group, a chance to share our hopes and fears, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh.



Since starting as a writer eight years ago, I've grown. (I've gained about twenty pounds, but that's for another post.) The kind of growth I'll discuss today is writing skill development. While I still have so much to learn, one area I've improved is tighter writing.

Be gone, verbal diarrhea!

So I want to share this excellent post, 25 Ways to Tighten Your Writing by Betsy Mikel with YOU.

A few of those tips that resonate with me:

1) Stop the adverb abuse. (I was a big offender). Dump the adverbs and choose more descriptive verbs. Instead of "I moved slowly", try "I trudged."

2) Knock out the highfalutin' vocabulary. When I first started writing, I wanted to impress everyone with my intelligence by using words like avocation, prescient, and anathema. Then I learned NOBODY CARES how smart I am. Readers just want a good story with compelling characters, and bigass words might interrupt the flow.

3) Use contractions, which help dialogue sound more realistic. I can't believe how long I'd write without contractions.

The article provides a link to 200 Common Redundancies. My critique partner Nicki Elson and I felt overwhelmed by reading that list!

In 2015, may your writing be loose and your editing tight, writer friends.

10 comments:

Roland D. Yeomans said...

So you're advocating that our novels go on a "prose-diet"? Or at least an adverb one!

James Patterson writes mini-chapters, and he is really popular. Our attention spans are shrinking. Of course, he mostly has ghosts do his books these days, so never mind!

I agree: our readers just want a riveting story and clunky adverbs and words that are unclear only make our narratives stumble.

Best of luck and highest sales with BLOCKED!

Nicki Elson said...

That is such a great article. I still shake in fear at that redundancies list!

What's weird about contractions is that when writing, it comes naturally to NOT use them, but reading flows more naturally with them. Something very strange happens in the brain between writing words and reading them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for both those links! I tend to use big words when I speak, but I learned that with writing, both in my books and here online, it's best to keep it simple.

planetpailly said...

I really like the list of 200 common redundancies. I probably use a few too many of those.

-James

Sarah said...

Such a good point about adverbs. I'm sure I'm a serial offender when it comes to those!

Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading the whole things now!

Cherie Colyer said...

Great tips. I'm off to check out the links you shared. =)

Stephen Tremp said...

Exploring tombs. Wow! Now that's some serious research.

I have an editor who does a great job of keeping me in line with adverbs and highfaluting content.

olgagodim said...

Number 1 and 3 - I agree, absolutely. Number 2 - not so much. If the readers don't learn those long and beautiful words from us, writers, the words will vanish, dissolve into oblivion. We keep them alive. If not us, then who?

olgagodim said...

Number 1 and 3 - I agree, absolutely. Number 2 - not so much. If the readers don't learn those long and beautiful words from us, writers, the words will vanish, dissolve into oblivion. We keep them alive. If not us, then who?

Joss said...

Some great tips thank you so much for sharing :)

 


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