Sunday, December 14, 2008

OOPS!

That is what I said when I retyped my story from Chicken Soup for the Nurses' Soul to use in my book, INSPIRE! Writing From the Soul, due out this spring. My purpose for retyping it was to use it as an example of sense of place. But what I saw were glaring errors. You see, I wrote that story nine years ago and since then I've continued to study and learn the craft of writing.

What did I see?

Passive verbs, too many adverbs, repeated words and phrases. For example:

Passive Verb

Then: The room was dark except for the soft morning light peeping through the semi-drawn curtains.

Now: Soft morning light peeped through semi-drawn curtains, illuminating the darkness.

Then: His eyes began to mist.

Now: His eyes misted.

See how that is more immediate and gives a stronger sense of place?

Adverb

Then: Gently picking up his delicate hand, she held it in hers.

Now: She slipped his delicate hand in hers.

Again, more immediate and succinct.

Repeated words and phrases

Then: When Freddie came to check his lunch tray, she found him thoughtfully stroking the pin. He turned to her and said, “I kept my promise, look.” He had eaten a few bites off his tray. They were making progress.

Now: When Freddie came to check his lunch tray, she found him thoughtfully stroking the pin. He turned to her and said, "I kept my promise, look." He had eaten a few bites. They were making progress.

What you don't see is that I had written "lunch tray" two times in the paragraph preceding this one. Too many repeated words fatigues the reader.

What I've learned since the year 2000?

Avoid passive words, too many adverbs, and repeated words.

1 comment:

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