Showing posts with label verbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label verbs. Show all posts

Monday, August 26, 2013

You're an Amateur Writer If


All writers want to look like experienced, sophisticated writers. We all rush to get that first draft down on paper, but then comes the time to self-edit and rewrite our manuscripts. There lies your opportunity to slow down, have another cup of coffee, and spruce up that first draft.
            The following points are things you might want to avoid because they make you appear like an amateur or a weak writer:
            1. Avoid the use of -ing and as constructions. They can sometimes make two
                actions seem simultaneous when they are physically impossible.

                Example:  Rushing into the house, I put on a fresh blouse and skirt.
                Should be written:  I rushed into the house and put on a fresh blouse
                                                and skirt.

                Example:  As I put the kettle on the stove, I turned to face him.
                Should be written:  I put the kettle on the stove and turned to face him.

   If you just have to use that -ing phrase, try putting it in the middle of the sentence.
   Then it is less conspicuous.
   .

            2.  Avoid the use of clich├ęs. I do not even have to explain this one. There is nothing,
                 in my opinion, that will make you look more like a weak or amateur writer
                 than this.

            3.  And then there is the adverb, the -ly word. This, I have to admit, is one of my
                 biggest downfalls. I love them, so I struggle with myself to get rid of them.
                 Now do not get me wrong. An occasional one can be forgiven. When you use
                 a weak verb and an adverb, you are using two weak words in place of one strong
                 one.
           
                 Example:  Angrily she shut the door behind her.
                 Should be written:  She slammed the door behind her.

                 Now there can be an exception to the rule for the sake of affect.

                 Example:  She kissed him--slowly, longingly.

            4.  Avoid a lot of short sentences. Try stringing some of them together with a
                 comma. Just do not overdo it.
           
                 Example:  “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
                 Should be written:  “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

            5.  Using a lot of italics and exclamation marks should be used only to convey
                 your character is shouting. Otherwise, the writer appears very insecure. Just
                 let the dialogue and description convey all the emotion needed.

            6.  Another stylistic device that can make a writer come across as an amateur is
                 flowery, poetic figures of speech or metaphors.

            7.  Are your sex scenes too explicit? You may want to leave a certain amount
                 of details left to your readers’ imagination. They do quite well with this, you
                 know. No heavy breathing, please.

            8.  Profanity has been so over used that it no longer has any shock value and
                 can turn your reader off. Now if it is a characteristic of your character, then
                 by all means use it. Otherwise, it is simply a sign of a small vocabulary.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of:  To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                              Sarah’s Secret
Member of:  Sisters in Crime
                     Writers on the Move

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six Tips for Keeping Active

Keeping active is not only good practice for health-obsessed silver surfers but also for aspiring writers. And just as students of all keep-fit disciplines exercise daily, so writers should also do their daily dozen.

  • Keep on top of those verbs. Active verbs are the strongest muscle you have when it comes to powerful writing. Replace verbs like come and go with a stronger verb to give a more precise definition of the movement: march, stride, race, sidle scuttle, pace.
  • Use stronger verbs. It will do away with any temptation you have to insert adverbs willy-nilly to clarify your meaning. I'm not advocating a blanket ban on adverbs but I am stamping my high heels cruelly onto the pernicious advice which encourages beginners to use phrases like  in a quiet voice instead of simply saying quietly.    
  • He spoke in a quiet voice? What's the matter with whispered, murmured, muttered...or just looking up a thesaurus?  
  • Look out for word echoes. All writers have favorite words. An unusual and well-chosen one used once or twice creates a desired effect. Overused words like overused utensils just wear out, lose their effectiveness and in the end clutter up manuscripts so badly that the reader loses interest.




  • Prune the adjectives. Adjective banks built up of triples are a huge hurdle for the reader to clear. The slim, intelligent, green-eyed blonde does nothing for my imagination  and when she enters the gloomy, ancestral, awe-inspiring banqueting hall, that makes me feel pretty gloomy too. To misquote Animal Farm--two adjectives,good, four adjectives disastrous.
  •  Avoid weak verbs.  Those like seem, feel, think, and the verb to be are reliant on following adjectives and phrases to complete their meaning. He was furious. In grammatical terms, the adjective furious is known as the complement because it completes the meaning for the verb to be.

  • Take care when using passive verbs. Active verbs like people are vigorous and energetic. They keep your writing moving along at a good pace. With an active verb, the subject (the person or thing you are talking about) performs the action. The teenager hurled his schoolbooks to the ground. With a passive verb, the subject does nothing. The subject suffers the action. The teenager was hurled to the ground by the earth tremors.

 Six more tips to follow next month to complete the daily dozen.

What tip would you share as the most useful in your writing keep-fit routine?

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.


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