How’ve you all been? How’s the writing? Revisions? Are you in love, yet? With your words, I mean. Because, if YOU love your words – chances are a reader will feel the love, too.
I attended a workshop at the Pike’s Peak conference, given by Epic Fantasy writer Carol Berg. You can find her blog and a great post on revision by clicking “here”.
The workshop was ALL about words. Words, words, words. Writer’s fodder. Words are the instruments we use to translate our dreams and ideas to the world. Clearly, VERY important!
A few key things that Carol brought up in the workshop:
CLARITY is key! Now this one may seem like a no-brainer. Obviously, we want our words to be clear to the reader. This doesn’t necessarily mean – simplistic. Carol said don’t be afraid to introduce a new word with enough context to be understood. You don’t want to pepper your prose. Know what the words you use mean and know the right context. Accessibility to the reader is the goal.
DULL words – it’s ok to use these when getting your story out. You can always go back and develop sensitivity in words through the revision process.
SPECIFICITY! This is a word that really resonated with me. I personally think you need to keep this word in mind as you’re writing and as you’re revising. Be specific. No sweeping generalizations, please! I struggle with descriptiveness in my stories and I believe this idea of specificity helps me with it. For example – you can have a perfectly ok sentence like this:
She parked the car on the street.
Or be more specific and write:
Clara parked her Corvette on the corner of Drury Lane.
Not the best sentence in the world, but version two packs a better punch, doesn’t it?
Think about OVER-USED words like: walk, look, smile, shrug, turn. I know I have an MC who smiles and shrugs WAY too much!! Is there a different way to say these things? Is it even necessary to say she smiled or shrugged or walked as much as I do? Think about body language in general.
And if you do consider actually body language and movement – answer this:
Can a smile actually creep across a face? Can you actually turn on your heel? Does one eyebrow actually arch? :)
WEASEL words: I’m guilty of using these, too. They come in several categories:
Vague weasel words: somehow, very, really, quite, nearly, sort of, just…. For example:
He wasn’t quite sure. *Is the “quite” necessary? I mean, he’s either sure or he isn’t. Pick one and don’t be vague.
SOMETHING and TRY are weasel words: something like, something in his voice, try to walk across the street, try to understand. Here again – be specific and don’t be vague. Your MC can’t try to walk – he/she either walks or doesn’t walk.
SEEM/APPEAR: (I’m seriously cringing here, people….”Bad, Donea. Bad!”) Per Carol, when it comes to these two weasel words – she says omit and just get on with the story. Be direct! Don’t hem and haw about things:
She seemed worried. *Ok. Well is she worried or isn’t she??
The business/pleasure of writing really is all about the WORDS. I know this workshop helped me. I hope my humble recap of it will help you, too.
Happy writing/revising/living out there today!!