Keep It Simple-Use Nouns and Verbs!

untitledLess is more. Five adjectives in one sentence is better than six; four adjectives are better than five; three are better than four; two are better than three…By using fewer words to obtain the effect you desire, you will force yourself to use more accurate and more powerful words-Dean Koontz, ‘How To Write Best Selling Fiction’

Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place-Strunk and White, ‘The Elements Of Style’

These are two great sources with amazing advice. They are not alone in their philosophy. I have read this time and time again and I understand completely were they are coming from. I am a self designated skipper. Some of you know exactly what I mean. I couldn’t care less the lady has diamond encrusted buttons running down the back of her evening gown. Unless it winds up in a murder scene, don’t go there.

I love Jerry Jenkins. He has written numerous blogs on the importance of simplicity and avoiding the urge to prettify your prose. He calls it written-ese. It’s a special language we use when we forget to Just Say It.

He provided the following example from a beginner’s work he was editing.

“The firedrop from the pommel of Tambre’s sword shot past the shimmering silver mist of her involuntary dispersal.”

Whoa! How many times did you have to read that?

None of these authors disparage adjectives and adverbs. They see them as indispensable parts of speech. The problem is when, why, and how many times we use them. Rich ornate prose is hard to digest.

Anything that interferes with communication-excessive adjectives and adverbs, overly complicated phrasing, too elaborate metaphors and similes presented soley for the fact that the writer wants to show off his/her skills, should be omitted.

The best way to communicate with your reader, is to keep your writing simple and direct.

-Jan R

Keep It Simple-Use Nouns and Verbs!

Writer or Author-You Decide

Authors who are published take the craft of writing seriously.  They understand the work involved to prepare your manuscript and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and dive in. So what do they do?

They read countless stories and analyze what’s going on in them to make them successful. When they read, they  ask themselves the following questions.

  • How does the author make me want to turn the page?images-8
  • Why am I drawn to the lead character?
  • What makes the scene work?
  • What’s the key conflict?
  • How does the author handle dialogue?
  • How does the author integrate minor characters?
  • How’s the pace, can you feel the tension building?

Authors also read books on writing, take classes, and apply what they have learned. They have people give them feedback-editors, critique groups(Scribophile,, trusted and objective friends. They work at becoming better writers.

You will never get where you need to be to publish that first novel, if you don’t learn your craft. Like any other job, writing requires work. You don’t wake up one day  and you’re an author, just like you don’t wake up one day a brain surgeon.  Just because you want it to be doesn’t make it so. Pay your due diligence and learn the craft. It will save you so much time and heartache in the long run.

Being the novice with a really good idea, I thought all I had to do was write my story down on paper. I knew how to string sentences together.  I did a minimal amount of research, and got a mediocre story set up for rejection.  The responses I got from the literary agents shocked me and hurt my feelings. I didn’t realize how bad the work was at the time, because I didn’t know any better, and I obviously didn’t take the time to learn the rules. Yes there are rules! Hard fast rules! I broke every one of them.

One of my rejections letters was from an agent who I’m sure knew I was new at this writing thing, and she took the time to point out the major issues with my work. “It’s just not ready. You have a really good premise, but it is riddled with grammatical and structural errors. You are head hopping,  and your dialogue is dragging.”

What was I suppose to do with that? I didn’t even know what head hopping was, and I understood dialogue, but I never knew it could drag. If I had researched and taken the time to learn the proper way to write a novel, I would have known exactly what she was talking about.

The question you need to ask yourself: Do I want to just write or do I want to be published?


-Jan R

Writer or Author-You Decide