Friday, June 18, 2021

If In Doubt, Leave It Out

You probably won't be surprised to learn I read a lot of unpublished manuscripts. I also read a lot of published work. Are there some glaring differences between the two? You betcha. The fact is most beginning writers write too much. That's okay for the first draft but when it comes to editing, you need to give that delete key a thorough work out! Good writing is about pacing. It's about taking the reader on a journey and keeping in step with them along the way. If you get the pacing wrong, the reader will stumble and begin to lose interest because it will seem you are more interested in writing the words than telling the story or relaying the information.

Here are some tips on how to cut down on unnecessary verbiage!

The Art of Description
With the advent of global communication and visual media, we all know what most things and even most places look like. It's no longer necessary to spend more than a couple of sentences establishing what things are, where scenes are set and what the weather is like, if that's important for mood.
Many readers nowadays will actually skip descriptive passages because they find them dull and interrupt the flow of the text. So don't beat yourself up over getting all the details across - that's what the reader's imagination is for!

Qualify That
Sometimes we write scenes etc., we're not sure the reader will understand - so we add extra words to explain ourselves, resulting in more confusion than clarity. For instance, look at this:
"With the divorce weighing on his mind, and his fears about losing his job, John was having difficulty deciding what to do with himself. Could he face going out, knowing that Pete would probably spend the evening ribbing him over his his inability to get along with his boss and his problems with his estranged wife?"
Clearly this is clumsy and confusing to read. Much better to remove the qualifiers and simplify:
"The divorce was on his mind. Did he want to go out? John wasn't sure. Pete would probably just want to rib him."
In the above version, even though the propositions are only loosely defined - the reader still gets it. You don't always need to explain every little nuance to get a point across.
Quite the opposite in fact.

Room to Breathe?
When you write you make a contract with your reader - whom you must regard as your equal. Not someone who is slow to understand and needs to be carefully led, shown everything and generally talked down to.
It's perfectly okay to leave out obvious - and therefore redundant - details. You don't always have to explain exactly who said what, what happened where, why and for how long.
New writers clog up their stories with unnecessary backstory, linking scenes, plot justifications and long complicated explanations of things the reader already regards as clear.
If you write with honesty and intelligence, your reader knows what and who you mean - when you over explain, you insult the reader. Don't do it.

Direction
Quite often writing suffers because the reader doesn't know where you're going. They wonder why you're focussing on certain characters and details - especially when you haven't first hinted at the 'point' of your story.
When you open a piece, you need a big 'sign' that tells the reader you're going THIS WAY - so that the reader knows what to expect along the way. You need to define your objectives - your purpose - in some way on the first page.
For instance, if you're writing a murder mystery, don't spend the first chapter following the protagonist around doing her laundry. Get on with the story and as soon as you can, show us the body!

Play By The Rules
Especially in genre fiction, you have to adhere to certain rules, because that's what the reader wants. Horror stories need to be at least a little horrific - right from the start.
Romance requires that you have lovers at odds with each other by page two. Science fiction and Fantasy require the elements of their genres too.
Publishers often say that, though many writers are good, they often write themselves outside of any given genre in their desire to be different or original - thereby, alas, disqualifying themselves from publication!
Of course it's important to be original - but if you can do that within the confines your reader expects, your chances of success skyrocket.

Focus
What you're looking for is sharp writing that relays the facts. When you go back and edit for sense, go for simplicity rather than exposition. If you waffle on about the intricacies of conflicting thought processes or meander through long descriptions of the countryside, you lose all sense of tension.
Pick up any popular novel. The best ones have no words that are about writing. They're all about story.

Speech tags
Okay. Speech tags - you know all the 'he said, she cried, they exclaimed blah de blah' - I'll keep this advice simple and precise. Unless you're writing children's fiction, lose them. As many as you can. It's the way of the modern writer.
Use other, more subtle ways of suggesting who is saying what. It's easily done, it just requires a little thought.
You can refer to character's actions just before or after dialogue, or use different styles to suggest different people.
Just as an experiment, try editing out all of the speech tags from your next MS. I think you'll be surprised and... master this technique and readers will love you for it!

Adverbs
Yep - we all know we're not supposed to use them, especially after a speech tag. They are redundant and add nothing to the story. Repeat to yourself three times before bedtime: I will edit out every word that ends in 'ly'!

​​​​​​​The general rule, by the way, is that at least 20% of your MS is probably surplus to requirements! And that goes for all of us!

(c) Rob Parnell
WRITING ACADEMY

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Away Notice

 Secret Attic is out-of-office from today to Sunday 20th June


Any emails received during this time will be responded to upon return.

Have You Settled On First Choice When Choosing a Title?

We’ve established what a title should be and we’ve also established your title is your selling tool. So if it can make or break the sale of your story, then we’ll have to agree that it is extremely important. 

How much emphasis have you placed when selecting a title?


1)You can’t write a story before titling it, so you jotted down the first thing that came to mind.

2)You added it as an afterthought when you completed the story.

3)You put a lot of thought into it and selected the best one.

I hope it was the latter – and I hope you did this…

1)You noted down as many titles as you could think of

2)Then crossed out the titles you thought were ‘so-so

3)And kept the most grabbing title of them all?


You did do this, didn’t you?

(c) Nick Vernon

Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com




Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Does The Title Reflect The Story?

We all have different tastes in what we like to read. Some have a particular taste for horror, while others prefer romance or fantasy or crime stories, etc. My favourite genre in short stories is horror, so once the title grabs my attention, I will enthusiastically read the story.

You may want to leave your readers in no doubt of the type of story you have written. That’s fine. You want to grab all the fans out there and/or recruit new readers into the genre you are so fond of writing.

So, how do you select a title that reflects your story?

Should the title always reflect the story?

Not always. But your title must have some sort of connection with your story.

Is There A Connection Between Your Title And Your Story?

If you choose not to have the title reflect the story that’s fine too. But there should be some relevance between them.

If, for instance, your story is about a man walking on the moon, then it wouldn’t make sense to title it, ‘Walking on Mars.’

If your story is an uplifting tale about two characters finding love, then your title isn’t going to mention death, unless of course one of the characters’ die.

At first your title may not give away the nature of your story. But once having read the story, the reader will understand the connection. Let me give you a few examples…

‘The Fire In The Sky’

This can be the title of a story in which an airplane explodes in midair or a story about a meteorite on its way to earth, etc.

‘An Angel Amongst Us’

Can be the title of a story about a person with extraordinary kindness or about an angel that leaves the heavenly realm to reside on earth, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~

You can be ambiguous in your title if you wish. Your title doesn’t always have to reflect your story. Having more than one possible meaning intrigues the reader but remember…

There has to be a connection between your title and your story.

(c) Nick Vernon
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories. Visit http://www.we-recommend.com