I have rolled up my sleeves and started the actual changes in my manuscript. Thank God for the Find and Replace functionality. I already mentioned yesterday that I am absurdly attached to the words ‘look’ and ‘turn’ so I will be removing some of those in short order.
But there are other words that writers should use very sparingly. They make your work passive and slow down the pace. These include words like ‘felt’, ‘saw’, ‘heard’, ‘show’, ‘believe’, ‘started.’ You get the idea.
Active and Passive writing is VERY tough to understand. I think this is due to the fact that as students and adults we are taught in our schoolwork and business writings that we need to describe things explicitly so that they are crystal clear. This is not the case in fiction. Allow the readers to draw conclusions and become part of the story. By making it active this ensures the readers will come along for the ride.
For example: Don’t tell us ‘Daphne heard glass breaking and she crept across the room to the hallway. She saw a hand reach in and unlock the door.’ As readers we are observing this, not becoming part of the scene.
Instead make it active. ‘The silence was marred by the sharp crack of breaking glass. Daphne crept across the room and peeked into the hallway. The small window pane next to the door gaped open, glass littering the tile floor. She gasped as a gloved hand reached inside, unlocking the door.”
See the difference?
For me, the arch nemesis of writers is the word ‘felt’. Now there are times that we cannot avoid using it, but we can definitely strip it out more often times than not.
Let’s look at this simple sentence: ‘She felt his hands run up her arms’. The reader doesn’t need to be told that she felt his hands.
Make it active: ‘His hands ran up her arms ever so lightly and continued along her shoulders…’ well, you get the idea.
So start think about ways to make your writing more active and use that Find and Replace feature right now – it will be worth it. Honest!
Task #25 – start replacing those stinky words… on the way to being completed