Tag Archives: strong writing

Three Things Thursday

1. Good writing is in the details.

Ann Dee came to my class on Tuesday and talked about voice. And she said ‘write more concrete, solid details, instead of using adverbs and adjectives.’

a. What does she mean?

In my fifth book My Angelica, Sage, who wants to be a writer has created a character (Angelica) who is deeply in love with a one-eyed  man.  Here’s a short scene.

Angelica performed CPR on her Indian lover. His lips were blue. Both of his eyes were closed. At least Angelica thought they were. One eye was covered by a bearskin eye patch. The other lay limply in its socket. . . .

Angelica’s perfectly curled hair trembled with fear. Her  white-gloved hands looked even whiter on her lover’s bare chest. . . .

(She saves him. And then . . . )

Angelica, he signed to her. You have saved me. Will you be my squaw?

Angelica, kneeling at his feet, read the signs, impatiently at first, then triumphantly.

Yes, she signed back fluently. Her skill with language was like her skill with CPR.”

b. Write your own lover’s scene. Use detail. Rich detail. No adverbs. Strong language.

Please share.

2. OLIVE GARDEN IS STILL OPEN! It just has no shingles! So that means we can go there for our dinner.

Ann Dee will come up with a date for before the end of September.

Please come to eat. And talk books. Maybe someone will give a short chat on strong language. Or maybe we will just swear at each other.

Bring 250 words (or less) to read from a book you are working on.

3.  Look at a scene you have already written. How do you rewrite using concrete details?

4. One of my favorite writers, Karen Foxlee, has a new book out. It’s called The Midnight Dress. I can’t wait to read it.


Filed under CLW, three thing thursday, Voice

i got up way too early (ly word) this morning but i am going back to bed now . . .

So, after all this complaining about the Damned Dystopian it seems that I am now one chapter away from being done. I need to go through this book that has caused me so darned much grief and do another draft. (And another and another and another, still.) However, I sent the first 185 pages to Steve (my agent!) and he told me nice things about what I had done so far. He also gave couple of suggestions that I need to incorporate the next time through the book (which will be today.) (I hope to be done tonight.) (I better be done tonight.) (It seems I have a talk with another editor this week.)  (For another book.) (Another book that I haven’t written.) (So, I must be done tonight.)

When I sent Steve the draft I told him I had marked a lot of ‘ly’ words in color and that those, I planned, were to be removed the next time through.

Yes, the hated (and I do mean HATED when I’m the reader) ‘ly’ word.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I mark all ‘ly’ words that can be exchanged with a stronger word.  And the more I learn about writing, the more I know I want as few ‘ly adverbs’ (as Mette Ivie Harrison calls them) in my writing. ‘Ly’ words are weak and for me, they scream “Look! Look at me and my poor word choice!” (Okay, this is what I think. This is not what other writers think. In fact, I know that Ann Dee doesn’t agree with me on this.)

That said, guess what? When I was determined to just this get DD written no matter what, I found out why writers put the adverb into their writing. It’s easy. I have more finallys, suddenlys and actuallys in this draft than I have had in ALL my other novels combined. When I write fiction, I ponder the best words as I’m going along. I couldn’t for the DD. It got to the point where I just had to get the book on the page. And so I did. No matter what.

Now, in the comfort of my little office (where I can see everything my naughty little children do) (not including Kyra who is many times listening to screamo crappo downstairs so low I can’t hear it), I can cut, cut, cut and replace all my weak writing. This will be a relief. I hope.

Do all ‘ly’ adverbs have to go? I’ll try to get rid of them, but the fact is, you sometimes need  them.

And here’s another interesting tidbit. My friend, librarian Pat Castelli, has told me over and over that most readers are blind to good, strong writing. Most readers, she thinks, don’t care how a sentence is put together. That’s why you can have a plot-driven novel that’s poorly written sell loads of copies.

But I do care. And so I must cut.

(Anyway–I was feeling a bit melodramatic there. I need to get a move on. I have work to do.)

BTW, I liked these two articles.




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