It’s been a year since I began my writing <quote>career</quote>. (tags intentional)
What have I learned?
Well, writing is hard. No, that’s not right. Writing WELL is hard. Writing is pretty easy. You just sit and pour your thoughts out and there they are, a scrambled mess. Writing well is a whole other recipe.
So how have I learned to, if not write well, write better?
I’ve learned that one can become two-brained while you write. Half of your mind is focusing on what you want to say, your story, your character’s dialog, your allusion to conflict, or intrigue or an unknown darkness. And the other half you can tune to be paying attention to the way you write. Your grammar can become more accurate. Your awareness to style becomes more refined. And the triggers which you slowly add to your writerly-mind will increase in number.
Triggers? Yes. Over time I’ve added triggers to my writer’s awareness, which alert me when my wording strays into novice territory.
Like what triggers? Passive voice triggers. Point of view (POV) swapping triggers. Lofty word triggers. Dialog tag use triggers. Verbosity triggers.
Benny contemplated the swarm of gears and parts on his bench. He was overwhelmed by the complexity and intricacy of the clock. “I can’t fix this!” he griped, vehemently.
Doris tsked in her mind. “Will he never learn patience?”
You read that and it doesn’t read poorly. You can get the picture and the emotions right?
But it’s full of problems. And a whole chapter of this style of writing, a whole story? Eventually, you’d be put-off, and maybe not know why.
Passive voice: “He was overwhelmed…” Better to have the clock’s complexity do the overwhelming.
Redundancy: “complexity and intricacy” Just skip the second word.
Dialog tag: “…griped,” We’re to avoid dialog tags that are not “said, told, asked.” Show how Benny was overwhelmed, don’t explain how he said something.
Superfluous adverb: “…vehemently” Again, this is explaining Benny’s frustration not showing us.
POV swap: “Doris tsked in her mind” We were in Benny’s head, then we jumped to Doris’?
Benny contemplated the swarm of gears and parts on his bench. The complexity of the clock, its tiny exact wheels and jewels, overwhelmed him. Violently shoving the array of brass and gold pieces across his desktop, he said, “I can’t fix this!”
Doris trundled over and rest her hand on his shoulder. “Patience, dear. You’ve fixed works like this that were much more detailed.”
Seeing this in its altered form, we get a better picture of what’s happening with Benny, the clock and Doris.
These are some of the highlights I’ve learned so far. It’s been a massive slog, but, hopefully worth it.