Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How Do You Write?

I love fiction. There's nothing like a good story to keep me turning pages into the night. Non-fiction can also be told in a story format, but for purposes of this blog, I'll be addressing fiction only. Writers love words, so I'll assume, if you write, that you have a great vocabulary. Please refrain from using it! When you write your book, you're telling the reader a story. You want your reader to be lost in it and not be distracted by poor grammar, poor editing, or too many "big" impressive words. So obviously, a clean and polished manuscript should be at the beginning of any good novel. But, back to your great vocabulary, use only those words that are descriptive and add to the scene you're writing. I rarely quit reading a book once I've started it, hoping that it will get better after a slow start. Recently though I gave up on a book early on. Why? Because the author spent three pages describing the flowers and trees in a garden the protagonist was walking through. I was very impressed with the author's knowledge of all this flora and fauna, but it didn't advance the story and bored me to death. The author had done this in earlier parts of the book as well, describing every piece of furniture in a living room. I really didn't need to know the difference between an ottoman and a settee, but the author knew it and she darn well was going to tell us about it. She lost me, and probably a few others as well. Readers select a book because they want to be transported to a different time and place, not to wade through extraneous verbiage that slows down their journey. Mary Higgins Clark, a very intelligent and successful writer, is an excellent example of a story teller who doesn't waste a word as she keeps you reading, page after page. Don't be afraid to edit. A tip I read recently, regarding descriptions, went - three words are OK, two words are better, one word is best. Keep it interesting, but keep it simple. Your readers will be glad.

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