You Can Break These Rules Too!

largeWrite what you know

You can write about stuff you know nothing about as long as you can pull it off and make it believable. By using the internet, you have the world at our fingertips. A luxury that wasn’t available to your predecessors.

Write everyday

I would love to write every day, but I have had to deal with some major crisis in the past few months that have interrupted my daily routine and superseded my wishes. Life happens. Give yourself a break. Forcing yourself to write every day doesn’t mean it’s good writing. I would say you need to aspire to write every day. Think of it as a goal and not as a requirement.

Kill your darlings

During the editing process, we have all heard cut, cut, and cut again. I wrote a blog on it a while back. You should edit your manuscript removing unnecessary, mundane sentences/paragraphs, but that doesn’t mean you have to delete any and every sentence or paragraph that isn’t doing the work of moving your story toward the ultimate goal. It’s okay to add a scene/ paragraph/ sentence that’s funny, beautiful, or clever, but it has to keep your readers’ attention and be seamlessly incorporated into your story.

Invest in a Thesaurus

This is a great tool to use when used correctly. We don’t want to repeat a word over and over. It doesn’t read well and can become distracting. The Thesaurus provides a list of alternatives for the word you are using. The problem is a lot of newer writers don’t choose your ordinary everyday words. They want to look smart, so they choose the million dollar word that leaves there reader scratching their head and wondering what the author was trying to say.

Never write a prologue

I’ve heard this one and actually pulled the prologue from my novel. I didn’t delete it, because I continue the debate of putting it back. Why did I remove it? I’ve been told agents don’t like prologues and they shout amateur. With this being said, I have read prologues in the books of successful authors.

So when is a prologue okay? When it serves a purpose.

Avoid the passive voice

I wrote a blog a while back on staying active. As a rule, you should stay active, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write anything in the passive voice. If you’re using good grammar, it’s bound to happen on occasion 🙂 The passive voice is another tool that you can use during the writing process, if you know how to use it. An example would be your desire to share information without getting into specifics…Things were misplaced. Mistakes were made.

The idea for this blog came from an article I read in Writers Digest written by Jeff Somers. We all want to be good writers and follow the rules, but like many of you, I do question the validity of rules, and have broken a few 🙂

-Jan R

You Can Break These Rules Too!

Word Echo?

imagesB1G33MWEWord Echo? I’m sure you have an idea of what it is, even if you haven’t heard the term before. It’s the use of the same word in close proximity or in the same sentence.

It’s considered ugly and inelegant. Don’t do it! The good news is, it’s probably one of the easiest mistakes to correct.

Just delete one of the repeated words, if you can do so without changing the meaning of the sentence. If that doesn’t work, you’ll simply have to replace the duplicate with a new one.

That can be a little tricky. You have permission to pull out the thesaurus, just don’t get carried away, and consider the word you’re using as a replacement.

Example:

Angrily– bitterly, impetuously, tempestuously, threateningly, fiercely, furiously, violently, infuriatedly, tigerishly (I didn’t make this one up)……

I just took a sample off of a thesaurus website. Many of the words listed are the same but different. They range from slight difference in meaning to utterly ridiculous.

Footnote: It’s okay to repeat if you’re writing poems, songs, or emphasizing a point. After I finished this blog, I thought about Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have A Dream speech. His repeats were intentional and poetic.

Just something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

Word Echo?

Are You A Pretentious Writer?

tmp716003483278376960Is your writing pretentious? Do you write to impress others, or is your writing real? I’ve written several blogs on pretentious writing, but I’ve never used those words to describe it.

So what is pretentious writing? It’s writing that uses those million dollar words. You know, the ones that leave the rest of us scratching our heads and wondering what we just read.

Pretentious writing is something you probably learned in college or high school. It may work great in technical or scientific magazines, and would probably fly in government documents or procedural manuals, but please don’t try to pass it on in a fictional novel.  Your attempts to make yourself sound sophisticated will actually backfire and make you appear unsophisticated.

Think of the novels you read. Do they use a lot of flowery prose and million dollar words? The answer is probably no. What the author has done is mastered eloquence. He/she can make even the most simple sentence waltz across the page. Something I’m still working on 🙂

One of my favorite blogs from the past year is Grammar Is A Must-But Lose That English Teacher Writing! If you have the time, I would encourage you to go back and read it. My posts are short, so it won’t take but a few minutes.

I’m not anti-Thesaurus by the way. I think the Thesaurus is a great writing tool. I open it when I find myself using the same word over and over, or when I’m looking for a word that’s a better fit for what I’m trying to say. I don’t use it to sprinkle million dollar words throughout my prose when simple ones will do.

Well I think I’ve beaten this subject to death, and have no doubt you understand what the point of this blog is.

Hope it got you thinking.

-Jan R

 

 

Are You A Pretentious Writer?