Friday, May 29, 2020

Writing: Suggestions

I started to title this one "rules," but decided that really there are no hard and fast rules for writers, at least none that will guarantee publication. There are suggestions that I've covered previously, suggestions that every writer has pounded into them from the start. Avoid passive voice. Don't "head-hop" (eg, keep point of view the same from scene to scene). Show, don't tell.

Well, these are suggestions that I've run across in my journey to becoming a writer. They don't guarantee publication--that takes constant learning, constant practice, and persistence. (Another way to put it is BICFOK--ask any writer what that means).

Meanwhile, try these for size.

"Don't use dollar words when dime ones will do." Sending your reader to a dictionary may make you look like you know a lot, but it won't get you readers. And may lose the person holding your book right now.

"Avoid using long, run-on sentences." If your reader has to go back to the start of the sentence to remember what it's about, it's too long. Write in short declarative sentences.

"Don't use excessive dialogue tags." "Said" is perfectly fine. It's almost invisible. When we talk , we don't snort our words, or chuckle them. We say them, or we snort or chuckle. But not all at once.

"Avoid cliches, platitudes, qualifiers, jargon, and overdone words and phrases." If you can't say it n plain English, start over and rewrite until you can.

What's your favorite suggestion to a writer? Let me know.


Priscilla Bettis said...

Good list! Here's one I learned recently:
Don't use dialogue to hide telling-not-showing.

Richard Mabry said...

Good suggestion, Priscilla. Thanks.

Patricia Bradley said...

"Don't use dollar words when dime ones will do." That was about the first thing I learned and it came from a nonreader--my husband who was the first to read my work many, many years ago. :-) Another one I like is "Tell the story between the quotes."

Richard Mabry said...

Your husband was wise...and I like your other suggestion.