Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Writer’s Right Dither And Stormrider Giveaway

 ** Don't forget the Stormrider signed paperback book and Unique Totebag giveaway ends July 7!  Enter now!

Well actually it’s the ‘wrong’ dither. Are you a writer who’s trying to get your word count down and can’t figure out why it is you can’t?  All those words are so special, so pertinent, so important to the story.

No they’re not.

Here’s the thing. First of all word count is important. You shouldn’t be obsessive about it, but if whoever you’re writing for has a word limit then stay within it. Don’t think because you write so brilliantly they’ll make an exception.  They won’t.

So, to reduce the word count (funny how we almost always over-write and not under-write) remove empty words. You know all those words that get thrown in to express an idea (or even to pad out a story or article) that you might not even be aware of.  Words like “maybe”, “try to”, “perhaps”, etc.  (yes, the etc. means something – think about all those other ‘filler’ words.)  The spinning and multiplying of words as a writer whirls and dance with language because he really doesn’t know what he wants to say.

And think about sentences like this: He decided it was about time he should be beginning to be learning about science.

Huh? What? How about: He decided it was time to learn about science.

Most of the time there are simple ways to cut lengthy sentences which not only reduces the dreaded word count, but believe me it will help hold the interest of the reader – after those cuts keeps a deciding editor happy.

Now, before I get everyone jumping all over me, there are times when the longer sentences are a necessity. There is such a thing as beautiful prose; that in which the writer creates a world, uses poetic metaphor and scintillating adjectives. So, as the writer (and at least first editor) the writer (you) is going to have to weigh exactly what is what in the story being written.

But, as a reminder, at the same time don’t fall into the cliché trap. That’s not poetic writing, it’s simply boring and shows the world the writer is a bit low on imagination. Let’s just skip things like “looking like the cat that swallowed the canary,” or “the early bird catches the worm,” or “things that go bump in the night” –  get it? It’s so much easier to avoid adding all those words, to create better, smarter and tighter sentences and create a much more engaging story all with just a little extra thought. It’ll become so easy over time that very little conscious effort will be needed to create your own metaphor and skip those old, worn out ones that have morphed over time into clichés.

So, instead of “he looked like the cat that swallowed the canary” how about, “he looked smug.”

Instead of “things that go bump in the night” how about “his heart pounded in the wake of the thump in the dark, deserted basement.”

Make words your playground ~don’t let them fence you in.

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