Writing Tip Refresher
We could all use a refresher, with basic tips, to strengthen our writing.
Sentences too long in length may bore the reader. Choppy sentences can distract the reader. Creating sentences of varying length keeps the reader interested. Even one-word sentences are acceptable if they make sense. A one-word sentence often follows a sentence of many words.
Example: Though not her first encounter with a non-human, this was different. Weird.
Get it? Got it? Good!
Avoid the use of passive forms such as using auxiliary verbs and/or infinitives.
Auxiliary Verb: (helping verb) a verb used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs
Examples: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, be, have, has, had, do, does, did, will, would, shall, should
Infinitive: the basic form of a verb, without an inflection binding it to a particular subject or tense
Examples: to be, to dream, to have, to read, to hold, to look
Don’t: She was going to begin to start cooking.
Do: She started cooking.
Use Strong Verbs and Keep it Simple: replace several words with one strong verb
Don’t: He ran along, moving his feet as fast as possible in order to escape a swarm of bees.
Do: He darted away, escaping a swarm of bees.
Many confuse simple words when writing. It’s important to use the correct words.
choose chose lie lay bought brought except accept
blonde blond nauseous nauseated everyday every day
allusion illusion ensure insure compliment complement
And the list goes on . . .
Delete any words that repeat the meaning of other words. These are unnecessary.
dead corpse: a corpse is already dead
estimated at about: in this case, estimated and about have the same meaning
whisper quietly: a whisper is quiet
at this point in time: at this point, infers the time
assorted mixed flowers: assorted and mixed have the same meaning.
past experience: the word experience infers it already occurred
I think you get the idea.
Use specific words whenever possible to help create a visual. This attracts the reader and keeps her/him focused.
It’s more exciting to have your character use a bow and arrow rather than writing that they used a weapon.
It sounds better to have your character chowing down on shrimp with lobster sauce rather than eating Asian food.
Writing is enhanced if your character spies a flock of starlings rather than sees a group of birds.
You get the picture!
Busy words and weak words make your story weak. They are red flags for agents and editors. Avoid them like the plague. Less is more. If you need proof, remove weak words from your sentences then reread. If the sentences still make sense, the words were unnecessary. Without busy words, you create powerful sentences.
Busy words galore: Can you spot the busy words in theses sentences?
Jane appeared suddenly out of nowhere. She was quite a pretty girl, looking somewhat like a beautiful model and smelling like one too. I thought that she could have posed for pictures in a magazine. Her clothes were sexy and made me turn red. When she whispered slowly and quietly in my ear I started falling in love.
Clear and specific version: Can you find sharp nouns, verbs, & adjectives in this paragraph?
Jane appeared out of nowhere as if plucked from the cover of a glamour magazine. Black pencil skirt and low-cut blouse along with high-heeled boots, complemented crystal blue eyes and wavy blonde hair. I blushed in her presence. A spicy floral scent lingered in her space. Her soft voice spoke to my heart. I fell in love.
See the difference?
Limit “ly” Words
Too many “ly” adverbs translate to weak writing. Instead find other words to describe your idea. Ask yourself if the adverb is necessary.
Logan forcefully pushed his teammate and quickly got out of the locker room before anyone else could physically assault him. He ran rapidly to his next class, furiously scheming about what to do next. He was desperately aware that the bullies might have been following closely behind him.
Logan shoved his teammate and hurried out of the locker room before anyone else assaulted him. He raced to class, plotting his next move, and checking over his shoulder to make sure no bullies tailed him.
Leave out the lazy!