Use Parallelism To Enhance Your Writing

ModulePARALLEL13If you’re like me you’ve heard the term parallelism, but didn’t quite grasp the concept. I never really understood the meaning or purpose of using it, until recently when I participated in an on-line class.

What is parallelism? Its the use of grammatical elements in patterns. A repeat of verbs, nouns, or any other part of speech, to create a pleasing pattern.

Noun+Verb – I woke up, I made breakfast, and I called the professor.

Verb+Verb – I laughed and cried at the same time. (Get as many verbs as possible in your sentences-they add movement.)

Prepositions – We looked in, around, and under the couch for the keys.

Sentences using parallelism are memorable and well structured. Song writers and Poets use parallelism. Readers don’t notice that the writer is using the technique to add rhythm and flow, they just enjoy it.

Other reasons to use parallelism in your writing:

-You will avoid the tendency to sprinkle adjectives and adverb all over the place.

-You will avoid long, confusing, run-on sentences.

-Your sentences will come out more clear and concise.

Just something else to think about and add to your arsenal of tools.

-Jan R

 

 

 

Use Parallelism To Enhance Your Writing

Control The Pace (Revised)

controllingthepaceinyournovelPeople who love to read but have never written books are cognizant of the pacing. Pacing sets the tempo of your story. Is it a fast read, or did it seem to drag on for days? Hopefully you’ve found a balance between the two, and they perform like a fine tuned orchestra.

I have read many good books, and yes, skimmed paragraphs, because I was tired of reading about the duchess’s frilly dress or  inner hull of a slave ship. I’m glad the authors did their homework and provided historical information, but sometimes it can be a bit much and totally bog down your story. I have read other books that were nonstop action that left me wanting; they were missing the details that made the story real and the characters endearing.

So how do you control the pacing of your story? Be cognizant of the tempo and your audience. You have to strike a balance between the amount of information in the pages you are given and the patience of your reader.

There are three main attributes that effect the pace of your novel.

  1. The number of pages/words in the novel vs. the time period covered – Long books that depict a short period of time are going to move at a slower pace.  You’re going to be providing a lot of detail and back story to fill up all those pages. Short stories depicting long periods of time are going to move at a faster pace. In order to cover everything you have to cover, you’re not going to have time to stop and smell the roses. There’s just too much happening and not enough pages/words to expound-talk about making every word count 🙂
  2. The density of the narrative – The length of the story versus the number of twists and characters within. If you have a simple story with maybe one subplot and a handful of characters, you should be able to move along at a fairly steady pace. You start going all Lord Of The Rings on that book with numerous subplots and characters that are a product of your imagination-you’re going to have to slow down and figure out a way to keep it moving forward without getting too bogged down in the details.
  3. Scenes vs. Exposition                                                                                                          Scenes are the important events that move the story forward.  They are the action and dialogue that occur during the course of the story.                                                    Exposition is the back story or descriptive information that stands outside of the story and slows things down.

I love this chart. It provides some great examples of ways to control the pace of your novel and is very user friendly:-) Some more things to think about when you are addressing pacing.

controlling-the-pace-of-a-story

 

I hope this helped.

-Jan R

Control The Pace (Revised)

Five Tools For Showing

screen-shot-2013-11-20-at-3-24-03-pmSpoiler alert! If you were one of the eight people that read this blog two weeks ago, you are experiencing deja vu. I thought it was a good blog, but one thing I’ve learned over the last two years, is the title can make you or break you.

It was initially titled ‘Show Don’t Tell’. I guess that sounded kind of boring, or maybe just to repetitious. Goodness knows how many ‘Show Don’t Tell’ blogs are out there. So I’m reposting it under a new name 🙂

Here goes!

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase-show don’t tell. You probably saw the title and questioned even reading this blog. Everybody knows you are suppose to show and not tell. You want the reader to experience the scene as if they are one of the characters walking through the story beside the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re suppose to do, but you don’t really understand what to do to make it happen. How do I show and not tell? It’s a lot harder than it seems. Once you start writing that novel, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

There are 5 tools for showing:

  • Dialogue
  • Action
  • Interior dialogue
  • Interior emotion
  • Description-Sensory

If you’re doing anything that’s not one of these 5 things, you’re not showing.

Why is it so important to show versus tell? Showing provides your reader with a powerful emotional experience. If you want to be a best selling author, that’s what you have to do.

It doesn’t matter how great you do everything else in that novel, if you’re missing that emotional experience, you lose. If everything you did is bad, but you have a great emotional experience, you may still win.

It all comes down to the take away. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience, or they wont be coming back.

-Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Five Tools For Showing

Dead Verbs Don’t Move

imagesWhen you are writing a novel, you want to use concrete, everyday verbs. Examples of these are jump, smile, run, look, show, and eat. You can picture the actions in your head and there is no ambiguity.

He ran down the street and jumped over the fence.

Replace weak or dead verbs with concrete verbs as often as possible. I say as often as possible, because there will be rare occasions when the weak or dead verbs are necessary.

Weak verbs usually end in ‘ate’ or ‘ize’. You know the ones. Some examples are finalize, incorporate, anticipate, categorize. They leave a vague sense of action without spelling it out. As a reader you have to reach for it, and these verbs can really way down your sentence.

The bookkeeper utilized her expertise to manipulate the numbers.

Dead verbs don’t evoke movement or images. They stop the action. They allow us to generalize instead of provide the details necessary to picture what is going on. They tell us what’s happening when we want to see. Examples of dead verbs are was, is, were, are, could, had. I think you get the picture.

Cassandra was angry.

Cassandra picked up the flower vase and threw it into the wall. She stomped across the room, slamming the door as she left.

Something to think about. I hope this helped.

-Jan R

 

Dead Verbs Don’t Move

Avoid Clutter!

imagesPAQYJGLTUnnecessary information can take away from the sharpness or clarity of the sentence you are writing. The incidental or secondary details may be important information that needs to be stated somewhere, but placement is key. You want to clear up space for the main idea.

Amateurish writers have a tendency to pack sentences with as much information as they can, and don’t really think about the extent that this may obscure their main point. They add things like days of the week, or percentages.

For clarities sake, leave less important, but vital information out of the point you’re trying to make.  Stick with the main idea. You can always provide additional information later. Remember sentences lose power when they are too wordy or difficult to understand.

Just something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Avoid Clutter!

Settings Are Not Just A Place

4f7a9b905a1bc2d6c97e5c8f0157ee9d_fullWhen you hear the word setting, you think of a time period and place, but settings do so much more than that.

With sci-fi and historical novels, setting becomes an important part of the story. The setting doesn’t have to be real but it does have to be believable.

Writing historical novels, do your research and throw in some things that you would expect to see during the time period.

Writing Sci-Fi, you’re  creating a world. Your setting needs to be detailed. Help your reader to visualize it. Draw them in.

Settings should be visceral and vivid and allow us to experience the world the author is building as if we are one of the characters within the narrative.

Settings evoke mood. In horror stories, your description of a haunted house should evoke fear in your readers.  In a mystery your setting should evoke suspense and curiosity. In a comedy your setting should evoke laughter or an anticipated thrill.

Settings provide information about your characters. How does their home look? Is it messy, neat, compulsively organized? Do they surround themselves with darkness or light?

Settings can also be used to evoke the passage of time and movement. The saplings we had planted in our youth towered above the two story house. This was home, at least the house that I remembered.

Who knew there was so much to writing. I hope this evoked thought and helped you better understand the use of settings in your novel.

TIP

I posted this blog several months ago and for some reason it didn’t get many hits, so I’m republishing it under a different title. Titles are important. It’s the first thing the reader sees when they are determining what to read. If you aren’t getting hits, it could be something as simple as the title. You have to grab your readers attention and pique their curiosity.

-Jan R

 

Settings Are Not Just A Place

Adverb or Not To Adverb? (Repost)

Nouns-and-VerbsI do a lot of critiques for different writers during the week. Some of the writers are very polished; others, not so much.

The one thing I’ve noticed in all levels, is an abundance of adverbs. I must admit, I get jealous at how prettified some of those sentences read. I can’t write like that. My brain isn’t wired that way.

According to William Noble, many inexperienced writers, and I will add-unpublished but have been around the block a few times writers, throw in “pretty” words(adverbs or adjectives) to make their prose more dramatic and meaningful. These cosmetic touch-ups often turn out to be  redundant or simply uninspiring. They bog down your story without adding meaning.

Is the adverb necessary?

He zoomed around the oval speedily.-Is it possible to zoom without speeding?

He stuttered haltingly.-Can you stutter without doing it haltingly?

What about ‘show don’t tell’?  Adverbs encourage lazy writing.

He whispered to her lovingly. (Telling)

He whispered words of love…my sweet, dear lover, my angel…(Showing)

Remember, there are better ways to prettify your prose, and using adverbs isn’t one of them. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Start showing not telling.

I am not a NEVER ADVERBS person. Sometimes they are necessary to provide detail or clarity.

The man sang loudly.

The girl was really cute.

When a writer needs to set up a scene and move through it quickly, then the adverb shortcut isn’t a bad idea. The problem comes when the shortcut becomes the norm, and your reader is left with an uninteresting experience.

What’s wrong with Adverbs? Nothing as long as you don’t abuse them.

-Jan R

Adverb or Not To Adverb? (Repost)