Posted in Editing

Tightened Language

When you are writing a story, whether a book length story or a short story, be as clear in your language use as you can. Get rid of redundancies and use of too many words to tell or describe something, when a few words will suffice.

Too Wordy: Joe walked as slow as he possibly could on purpose because he knew it would make me angry.
Cleaned Up: Joe trudged down the path. He knew it would irritate me.

In the first sentence too many words are used to say what one word can do. By using the word trudge, we get a clearer picture of how slow Joe is walking without the extras. Then breaking it down into two sentences makes it easier to read.

Too Redundant and Excessive Language: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve, I thought. The whole situation was making me angry to the point I wanted to go down stairs and tell them to stop.
Tightened Up: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve. Hmm, maybe I’ll pound on their door and tell them to stop.

In the first sentence we don’t need the words I thought because we already know the character is thinking the words we just read. It’s one of those unwritten understandings. The reader just knows. That is what’s called excessive language. We also have redundant language in that sentence. The reader already knows the character is angry so the words, The whole situation was making me angry to the point…, is not needed.

Posted in Characterization


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When I am reading a work of fiction, I hear the voices of the character in my mind. No, I don’t hear voices literally. I imagine I hear them. That’s quite different. But, when I hear each of them as I’m reading, they all sound different. I hear them that way because the author did such a good job with creating a voice for each individual character that they all sound different.

So how do we make our fictional characters sound different? It comes down to choice of words and how those words are said. I think body language/facial expression also plays a part in that it helps with how the words are intended when spoken on the page in your dialogue. Think of their character too. Is how they speak out of character for them. If so, why?

Look at the different ways to say something.

“You heard that? Really? I didn’t think I was that loud,” said Bill.

“Hey ya. Serious now, ya’ll hear that? How? Not like I was ‘at loud or nothin,” said Bill.

Play around with your words. See your character in your mind. Imagine them talking. How are they saying what their saying?