You’re walking with a friend in a crowded amusement park. In your pocket are some coins, but what you don’t realize is you have a hole in your pocket. The next time you reach in to get them, you may only have a couple quarters left. The hole sucked the rest of your coins and out it went without you knowing it. Well, think of the words you write with as your hole and the reader as your coins. You want to keep your readers hooked and reading, not lost and motivated to put your story down. So…..how do you keep your readers from falling out of that hole?
Your wording should be tightened up, and condensed. In other words, don’t be wordy. It shouldn’t take you several words to get your point across. Here are some examples:
Wordy: The rushing wind hit me in the face and tossed my hair around.
Much Better: The wind slapped my hair.
In this example, both sentences pretty much say the same thing but number 1 uses more words to get to the point. Number 2 is straight forward AND it implies the wind is hitting the person in the face without having said that it is.
Wordy: In the forest it was calm. The sunbeams reached their rays through the trees, and the light was speckled throughout.
Better: Sunbeams fingered through the calm forest leaving speckled light throughout.
Here again all the words in number 1 aren’t needed in order to paint a picture of the setting. It’s boring because too many words are used to describe what few words can actually do. Not only that, but an auxiliary verb like ‘was’ only tells you about it. It doesn’t add to the picture. It takes away from it. Number 2 leaves you with a clear, strong picture in your mind.
Remember something though. When you’re writing your story, write your story. Concentrate on that. THEN, once you have your first draft finished, go back to the beginning and focus on the particulars and details like wordiness.
When it comes to writing tag lines, such as ‘said John,’ sometimes we need other words to say instead of the word ‘said’. Why? Because said gets too monotonous. And in this writer’s opinion, it can ruin the flow. It kind of takes the realism out of the dialogue. So…..what are some alternatives? See the list below.
There are much more than these, but you get the idea. Notice these words dig deeper into the mood/emotions of the speaker. That’s what you want because, what this does, is touch the readers’ emotions. That’s what you want.
How picky are you with your words, when you write? Do you have to choose just the right ones in order for you to move on? Or do you belt them out there onto the page and rework them later? The first way can stop you up and prevent you from making headway at a steady pace. Because what happens is this: a creative idea for your story may have popped into your head, and you might forget it by the time you’re finished making your wording what you ultimately want it to be.
Get the words on paper first along with your ideas and worry about making them just perfectly right later. You can also make notes for yourself along the way about what you want to go back and fix. Your draft will still be there waiting for you.
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.
Example: “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?
When I was in high school, I went to the Rueben Daniels Center of the Arts and Sciences. In my dance class we learned about theme and variation. What we had to do was choreograph a dance routine that was about one minute in length. Once we had our routine down, we had to choreograph two more dance routines based on the first one. More precisely, they had to be variations of the first by modifying it somehow without changing it completely. With writing this can also be done. Create a scene. Then, create two more scenes by varying the first scene. But, don’t vary things too drastically. It needs to be clear that your varied scenes are essentially the first scene but with slight differences.
What does this do? It works at developing creativity. It’s like a brain workout except its “bench pressing” words instead. So…have fun with it and think outside the box.
Do you listen to anything while you are writing? More specifically, do you listen to music while you write? I have found that it helps inspire certain types of scenes. For example, if you are writing a romantic scene, you might listen to some easy listening type of music. Also, if you need inspiration for danger within a scene, you could listen to music that brings across that feeling of foreboding.
Years ago I was listening to some music while writing some poetry. As a happy surprise, when reading the poem later after it was finished, I was told by others that they could “hear” a song while reading it because there was a cadence to the words as they read them.
Add music to your “playdough” mix of words. The results may surprise you.
Today as I was climbing the steps up to my apartment, I happened to notice two yellow jackets fighting on one of the steps. I mean they were going full force. I stood there and watched them for a minute. Eventually, they parted about a centimeter, but their legs were still going at it. No, I didn’t stomp on them. They weren’t bothering me; just each other.
Isn’t it like that when we write sometimes? We fight like mad trying to find the right words to use in our writing projects. Just when we think we’ve found the right words, we back up, re-read it with our mind still fighting with the idea, ‘Did I get it right this time? Did I not? How do I know?’ Yes, we all have writing days like that. The answer is to tough it out. Leave your work and go back to it a day or two later. If you still don’t like it, continue fighting to get it the way you want it. Or, you can ask advice from someone else.
Stick with it. Don’t let that fight get you down. You can do it.
Words travel across the page and along with them, our eyes. From our eyes our brains receive the “picture” that, when put together, the words project to us. This journey of words is not only for the benefit of the reader but for the author/writer as well. It’s a two sided gratification. The readers reap the benefits of a great story, which they can chew on for days afterwards. They will even pass it on to others who then get excited to read it. This cycle continues from reader to reader. It’s a form of advertising, whether they realize it or not.
There are two journeys authors go on. The first being that of the story itself, which changes more than once along the way. Sometimes they may even feel as though they’ll never get it finished (many of us go through that), but they/we do, and they/we gain the satisfaction of having finished such a lengthy project. The second journey begins when the book is finished, which involves passing the book along to others. Marketing. It’s fun because there are so many creative ways to do this (not going into details, as this is for another post), yet it’s challenging. But, once you get going with it, the momentum picks up. Time, give it time. My point is, authors pass along just as the readers pass along. The two are on two different highways, but the goals are the same. They’re getting the book out there.
Those pesky filler words don’t need to be there. Get them out of your writing. You just don’t need them. They only serve to take away from and weaken your story. If you think you even need them, think again. We always think we know best. Trust me, we don’t.
The above paragraph has filler words in them. They’re the ones in bold face print. I put them in there on purpose to prove a point. To prove my point, I’m going to retype it and take them out. You’ll see how much better it sounds.
Those pesky filler words don’t need to be there. Get them out of your writing. You don’t need them. They serve to take away from and weaken your story. If you think you need them, think again. We think we know best. Trust me, we don’t.
Sometimes you will need to use them. After all, they are part of the English language and they are there for a reason. The problem is we tend to use them to much. When they’re used too much, that’s when they weaken your writing. When I was editing my novel The Triunix of Time, I had a list of these words to look for in my story. I went through my book and looked for each one of them one at a time and checked them off as I finished with one, then I went on to the next. Don’t worry, I used the Find option in Microsoft Word. It found them all in an instant. As it turned out, I initially used the word just 350 times. Talk about over use. Please see the grid below for a list of the most used filler words.
So, how do you know you need to use them? Say the sentence without the filler word in it. If it still makes sense, you don’t need it.
If you have any questions please feel free to message or email me. I enjoy helping others with their writing.