Hey hey folks. Hope you are doing well.
After my last post here I want to give what may seem to be a counterpoint piece of advice. Last time I waxed philosophical about metaphor and the long strung description that give lyrical beauty to your writing.
All of that holds true.
Today, however, I want to talk about writing concisely.
We writer folks love our words. We think in words and when we write (especially first drift) we tend to go overboard, stuffing our sentences with every cool little adverb and adjective we can find. Oftentimes we are writing to make everything as clear to the reader as we can, really wanting them to be able to see the room we are describing. Our characters walk into a bar and we want to tell the reader how big the bar is, what kind of decorations there are on the wall, describe all the patrons and what they are doing, . . . we’ll even tell the reader about all the bottles of alcohol on the barback trying to capture what the look of the setting is.
90% is nothing but filler. Try something like this instead.
I stepped through the door of O’Malley’s, a dive bar in every sense of the word but nobody’d warned it the pool had been drained. It was a broken room full off broken people and it smelled like shit in an ashtray.
That’s quick and dirty but it gets to the point of summing up a slum bar in two quick, evocative sentences. It also applies the advice I gave last time of using the metaphor of something to describe it.
The other place we clutter up our writing is in dialog. I call it the “he said/she said game”. I am well documented in my hatred of speechtags. They are of the Devil and should be exterminated. They just drag around your manuscript being lazy. Once you start a conversation between two characters let the flow go, your reader will keep up. If you need to reinstate the order of who’s speaking then give them a quick action that will pull double duty of establishing their character.
For the example, we’ll go back to the bar.
The bartender sloshed over, rag in a chubby hand. “Whatta ya want?”
“A Rum Runner.” I struck a match and lit my cancerstick to cover the smell of him. “You don’t have to put a little umbrella in it if you don’t want.”
“This look like tha beach to you pal?”
“Then hold the Runner and the umbrella and give me a shot of rum.”
I eyed the bottles behind him. He didn’t move, just mouthbreathed in front of me. I shook my head. “You’re not going to make this easy are you?”
He leaned in, putting the hand holding the rag on the bar hard. It clunked. A fat silver tube peeked out of a dirty fold. Looked like a .357, maybe even a .44.
Nope, not going to make this easy.
Again, quick and dirty, but you get the point. Hope this helps in your writing and your editing.
Don’t forget the newest book in my Deacon Chalk series, BLOOD AND MAGICK, comes out on Tues March 4th! NEXT TUESDAY!!! It’ll be available everywhere books and ebooks are sold, so go pick it up!
Till next time, be cool.