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All Things Writing & Publishing > Tips in tightening up our writing

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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments I thought the help section was the best place for this thread.

Has anyone good tips on how to tighten up writing? I'll go first. When my current agent first took me on the first thing he asked me to do was go through the MS searching that and that's. It was a great tip. I had used so many that were not required. i.e., "... I said that I'd do that..." Whilst it reads better "...I said I'd do that..." Simple really, but it is the little things we over look.


message 2: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Ooooh, melikes this topic! And the suggestion to search for "that"s!! Err...I can't think of anything helpful...but I swear, I will!!!!

Thanks, Mr Tim!!


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15746 comments Talking about tightening - we ended up cutting about 45 k words and they weren't only 'that'-:)

Evan cut most of his novel and came it with a goodseller


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments King says adverbs are the bane of good writing.


message 5: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments That's brutal, but sometimes necessary. There have been times when I've been brutal editing my own work and it has been worthwhile, although I've kept the cut material and have reused it... :D


message 6: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Tim: What is an eh-junt? (kidding)

@Mr Nik: Who is "we"? (not kidding)

Hugs,
Ann

#Agentless #QueenOfAdverbs #Doomed #FeelingGoodAboutIt


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Strunk & White's Elements of Style is prominently placed on my bookshelf.


message 8: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Mark Twain says take out every instance of "very" :)


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) A more proactive approach rather than avoiding adverbs is to use strong and exact verbs.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15746 comments We? Probably seeing double -:)

I had a co-author on the first novel


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Strunk & White forever!
The word 'very' usually makes me cringe.
Stein On Writing is excellent.


message 12: by Tim (last edited Jul 29, 2016 02:58PM) (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments Another thing I tend to do after I've finished a manuscript is search had and have and where ever possible condense to I'd and I've.. I don't know why I don't do it as I write... Well, yes I do... I miss them as I struggle to keep up with the action. My typing is slow and my characters are on a loose rein and galloping!!


message 13: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Oh, geez, you guys...

I literally word vomit onto my keyboard and call it a day LMAO!!

*takes a seat**pulls out notepad**scribbles down wisdom*


message 14: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments Alex G wrote: "Strunk & White's Elements of Style is prominently placed on my bookshelf."

Prominently placed on my shelf as well!! An excellent resource :)


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) I also own a copy of Elements of Style. It's my second copy. Don't ask me how I lost the first.


message 16: by Marie Silk (last edited Jul 29, 2016 07:49PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Annie wrote: "Oh, geez, you guys...

I literally word vomit onto my keyboard and call it a day LMAO!!

*takes a seat**pulls out notepad**scribbles down wisdom*"


Haha Annie, same here :) I vaguely remember a few "writing rules" from high school, but when people start talking about official author stuff like climax and hook and outline, I pretty much just stare blankly. I'm afraid that if I start reading about "how to write" now, I'll mess up my books. I just write until I think the story should end, fix typos, publish, hope for the best :).

It was a month or two ago that I read the thing about adverbs and the word "very". Then I was like, dang. I'm too scared to back through my books and see what carnage may lie within...

I appreciate the tips and tricks of the trade, though. I do want to be a good writer!


message 17: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??


message 18: by Marie Silk (last edited Jul 29, 2016 08:18PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Eldon wrote: "Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??"

I love your question :) I don't know a great answer, though! There are probably 5 million things I can be worried about with my writing, which I can dwell on, or keep doing my best with writing.

I think it improves my writing to be conscious of adverbs now even though I still use them plenty.


message 19: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Tim wrote: "I thought the help section was the best place for this thread.

Has anyone good tips on how to tighten up writing? I'll go first. When my current agent first took me on the first thing he asked me..."


This is really interesting! I find that on my first read-through of my rough draft, I add more of the word "that" to make the dialogue flow. I use hardly any on my rough draft for some reason.


message 20: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Miss Marie: Oh, thank goodness! *hugs* I thought I was all by my lonesome!!

Yeeeah, I'm definitely not a "technical" writer. At all. No outline. No gameplan. No nothing. Just let the characters do whatever the heck they feel like. I mean, they ARE alive, after all. Right? Riiiight??? Then again, I'm known for scrapping entire chapters because they lead smack dab into a brick wall. Soooo *crazy laugh*

Confession time: I heard about adverbs and the word "very"...errr...right here. Like, in this thread. Oh, man, I need help hahaha...haha...ha...

I really appreciate y'all sharing your expertise! Thank you!!!

Oh! And I find myself both adding and subtracting "that"s. Totally depends on how well it rolls off my tongue. Again, NOT a "technical" writer, eh?

Hugs,
Ann

P.S. - @Mr Eldon: Pfft! I ain't scurred!!

#Fearless #OrJustIgnorant


message 21: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15746 comments If tightening is the purpose, emoticons and emojis may replace many words and convey even more precisely the required feelings -:)
50 years from now (pretty much when Tim needs to live under Sharia laws-:)), I can imagine books (hey, and maybe even contracts) written in this language:
ಠ_ಠ, ^_^, ^_~, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The above is the first five chapters of my new thriller for the generations to come -:)


message 22: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments You guys have me paranoid about "very" now... I'm off to do a search... :D


message 23: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2281 comments Eldon wrote: "Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??"

Especially as the guy that uses a jogger getting hit by a guy in a van playing with his dog almost as much as most people uses adverbs...maybe King should stop rewriting the same book over and over...


message 24: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Tim wrote: "You guys have me paranoid about "very" now... I'm off to do a search... :D"

Aw, sorry Tim! :)


message 25: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments J.J. wrote: "Eldon wrote: "Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??"

Especially as the guy that uses a jogger getting hit by a guy in a van..."


Thanks J.J. :) Nothing like a good laugh to start the day!!


message 26: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Nik wrote: "ಠ_ಠ, ^_^, ^_~, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

This the first time I've understood anything you've said...

@Mr Tim: Just checked. I have 57 instances of "very" in my book.

I'm afraid of what you might find. VERY afraid. Get it? No? *sigh*

@Mr JJ: You make me giggle.

Hugs,
Ann


message 27: by M.L. (last edited Jul 30, 2016 02:24PM) (new)

M.L. Eldon wrote: "Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??"

I don't know, but I've heard that a number of times from other than Stephen King, no "ly" adverbs. But, who used tons of them? JK Rowling! I thought, my goodness, she said "scathingly"! I would not be surprised if she set that 'rule' back some, and that could be why it's been re-emphasized.

It's funny, some rules matter some of the time, but not all of the time. :-)


message 28: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments I think rules matter all the time...bad grammar is always going to be bad writing. The thing about adverbs or words ending in "ly" though is...that was never a rule but more a style choice. Style varies from writer to writer and book to book but the rules remain the same wherever good writing is found.


message 29: by M.L. (new)

M.L. For an actual tip, hmm . . . be careful of head hopping, especially in the same scene, especially too early. It can work and work well, or put the reader out of the story.


message 30: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments M.L... Eh? Head hopping? What the hell is that?


message 31: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 704 comments I think it means changing the narrative voice??


message 32: by Annie (last edited Jul 30, 2016 03:27PM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Yeppers. Multiple POVs.

It can be a bit tricky. But then again, lots of Rom and Erotica is told this way. Typically with a clear indication with who's head we're hopping to. For example:


Dude:

I couldn't look at her. Because I knew I'd be done for. Blah, blah, blah...

Chick:

He wouldn't even look at me. But I knew he was dying to. Blah, blah, blah...


Depends on the genre, maybe? I'm not sure...

Hugs, I'm sure about hugs,
Ann

EDIT: Miss ML, what do you think might help it work and work well?


message 33: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments Okay. thanks, Eldon.


message 34: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments Thanks, Annie. Clear as crystal. I don't employ those techniques which is why I was confused by the term 'head-hopping' ... #hugesigh... manuscripts okay... again... but this group is giving me the jitters... :D LOL...


message 35: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Tim: LMAO!!! Why would you have the jitters???

Pretty sure I'm the only one here who was reckless (read: dumb) enough to vomit a book into the public lap and not bother wiping up the mess ^_~


message 36: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments LOL... "Head-hopping" I thought, what? Never heard of that! But I've been reading the technique in Hart Broken... Should have realised you'd be behind this skullduggery!! :D **blaming you*** :D X


message 37: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) *sigh*

#AlwaysTheScapegoat


message 38: by Tim (new)

Tim Rees | 732 comments :D But you wear it well... Very well, in fact... #sigh... I didn't realise skullduggery came in high-heels... My bad... :D X


message 39: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) That's the most dangerous skullduggery there is ^_~

As for an actual tip, I pull repeat words that are too close to one another. Don't think this "tightens" anything, though. I was just trying to contribute LOL


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11505 comments Love Nik's shorthand, BUT is not comprehension desirable for good writing?

And while King dislikes adverbs, allegedly with no option of when to use them, he is hardly a great expert on grammar. My challenge: write that sentence with no adverbs.


message 41: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Ian wrote: "Love Nik's shorthand, BUT is not comprehension desirable for good writing?

And while King dislikes adverbs, allegedly with no option of when to use them, he is hardly a great expert on grammar. My..."


lol


message 42: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15746 comments Ian wrote: "Love Nik's shorthand, BUT is not comprehension desirable for good writing?..."

Thanks, Ian! Unfortunately - it's all plagiarism -:)
Comprehension? For good writing? Since when?


message 43: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2281 comments M.L. wrote: "For an actual tip, hmm . . . be careful of head hopping, especially in the same scene, especially too early. It can work and work well, or put the reader out of the story."

On a similar note, I see people repeatedly complain about an author switching from first to third POV, and I always think to myself that Charles Dickens did it in Bleak House. Then I saw Nik did the same thing effectively with his first Oligarch book. I tend to think there isn't any one technique by itself that puts a reader off, it's when these unconventional techniques are employed ineffectively that puts readers off. I think the lesson I'm trying to get across is that you should never avoid trying something because it's a hated trope - instead you should embrace experimentation and work to make it seamless in your narrative.


message 44: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) J.J. wrote: "I think the lesson I'm trying to get across is that you should never avoid trying something because it's a hated trope - instead you should embrace experimentation and work to make it seamless in your narrative. "

*nods enthusiastically*


message 45: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15746 comments J.J. wrote: "you should embrace experimentation and work to make it seamless in your narrative.."

Very well said, indeed. Should be a daily quote here on GR


message 46: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Sounds great, J.J. :)

I have not switched from 1st to 3rd POV, but in all of my stories, the POV alternates between a dozen or so characters.

I'm a screenwriter trapped in an author's body, I tell ya! Seriously though, I love mixing things up!


message 47: by M.L. (last edited Jul 31, 2016 08:59AM) (new)

M.L. Head hopping is not just changing points of view - it is doing it so suddenly it feels like static break up - and does just that - breaks the reader's connection to the character/story.

It isn't a technique either, it's usually in place of a technique. Big difference. If your reader is ok with it though then, well--then it's okay for them. :-)

A great example of how to change points of view and have powerful writing: George Martin's Game of Thrones, it's fantastic. Most of the books I've read lately change points of view and they are all great, but none of them do it in a way that would be described as 'head hopping.'


message 48: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11505 comments For me, a change of POV should come with a change of section or preferably chapter. The main reason to avoid it is that when a reader comes across it, he may not recognise that it has happened, and come to a wrong conclusion, until suddenly be brought back to reality, and that is a bad experience. It is imperative you don't force the reader to have to go back to try to work out what has happened.


message 49: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Eldon wrote: "Can someone answer me this...why is everyone so afraid of using adverbs just because Stephen King hates them??"

For me, if an adverb works - I'll use it.

My writing style is quite lean, focused on verbs and not flowery.


message 50: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 111 comments Elie Wiesel's once said to "not prostitute language". It has to do with the distinction of trying to force an emotional response from the reader vs. being simultaneously thoughtful and intentional with language. The later will carry emotion along with it, and flow better (feel tighter). (I apologize for not being able to provide more clarity to Wiesel's advice, but I'm still in the process of understanding it myself.)

An example of this is a book I just read for my library's book club, Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. The vocabulary in that book is MASSIVE, but it flows uninterrupted, never seems bloated, and the emotion feels natural. I'm rereading it just to get a better sense of how Wharton pulled this off.


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