We writers are very sneaky people. We lie to our readers constantly, luring them into imaginary situations and manipulating their emotions shamelessly under the pretense that we are entertaining them. And all the while, what we really want to do is preach to the reader about how the world works and how to make it go better. The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is that the good writer doesn’t get caught. Good writers make readers need what we want to tell them. Less experienced writers start their novels only thinking about what the reader needs to know in order to understand. Continue reading “Writer Wants Versus Reader Needs”
It is very easy to have your own voice. Basically your voice is anything in your writing style that makes you different from the competition. Some of these qualities are positive, but some are negative. Unfortunately, the negative ones are the easiest, because they tend to look like mistakes. Be careful not to fall into their snare. Continue reading “How to Develop Your “Author’s Voice” – and How Not to”
When the minions sit around the gruel pot chewing the crunchy bits, sometimes we get going on the esoterica of writing, subjects like, “How long is a chapter?” is it all right to use ‘alright’?” Or, more appropriate, given the food intake in this joint, “How do you spell ‘
diorhhea’ ‘ dihorhea’ ‘ diorhea’… ‘the trots?”
When it comes to the length of a chapter, I think that’s a bit of a red herring. It’s not how long the chapter is; it’s what the chapter is there for. We break our writing into sentences, clauses and phrases for specific reasons, usually to do with conveying meaning. Likewise, we break novels into chapters.
I wrote an article here a couple of years ago suggesting ways to tidy up shaggy writing. It’s been a while, and perhaps it’s time for another trim.
Everyone has a list of words and phrases you should “never use.” Many of these are not specific taboos. They are just loose writing that could be tightened if you recognize the symptoms and want to try harder.
Here are a few words and phrases you might consider adding to your private list. Note that I have found all of these at one time or another in a “real” book, and often while I’m polishing my own work. Continue reading “Writing Tip: Another Set of Words to Trim”