Writing Wednesday: 5 Major Don’ts of Writing
I know what you’re thinking…My God, he’s doing another list blog. I will admit that I’m running short of ideas (I’d love to hear your suggestions), and this list was the best out of three I could come up with.
Trust me…You don’t even want to hear about the other two.
Either way, I’d love to hear your suggestions for what you think the next writing blog should be about. Ask me questions and I will write a blog to answer them, either by teaching from my own experience, researching others, or both. Let’s keep learning and talking about writing.
Anyways, here’s the aforementioned list. The Five Don’ts of writing is a short list of basic rules that all writers should know, follow, and try to teach others, for the benefits of both readers and writers alike.
Just Because it Can Be an Adverb, Doesn’t Mean it Should Be- Close your eyes for a moment. Think of a word. It can be almost any word. Now add –ly at the very end. Now you have an adverb. Where, in rare occasions, some of these words can be useful, most of the time they are just plain annoying, and they’re tiring to read.
Here’s an example: She sat, tirelessly wading in the water. Waves tauntingly seeped onto her tingly skin; scarily awakening her senses before falling heavily back in with its liquid brethren. The sound rang wetly in her ears.
You see? DO YOU SEE?
All jokes aside, seriously, avoid the adverbs. They are often redundant and if they can’t be switched out by their regular counterpart, it’s a sign that they shouldn’t be used. You may come across a rare exception, but for the most part it’s just bad writing.
DEATH TO DIALOGUE TAGS! – Dialogue tags can be exhausting to read, simply because of their uselessness, and the fact that it’s ending a quotation, which is usually already full of information in itself. The two best dialogue tags, to date, still stand as: ask (or asked) and said.
If you can, eliminate the dialogue tags as much as possible. Unless more than one person is talking, they aren’t really necessary; especially when you’re further into the story. As long as your characters maintain unique personalities and voices, your reader should easily be able to figure it out who’s speaking.
Use the past or present actions dictate who is speaking, and use unique characters and voices. Then, when you have to use a dialogue tag, you can feel comfortable doing so. And you won’t have to worry about overloading your reader in unnecessary text.
Cut Down Your Paragraphs: Long Paragraphs are exhausting, boring, and normally full of description. OK, so this is a bit of generalization, but it’s also the attitude of the reader.
Think of yourself for instance. Would you rather read a large convoluted text? Or would you like to read simplified short ones that you can get through easily, absorbing each detail without breaking a sweat?
The reader will also want to skip past those long boring paragraphs, to get to the action. Try to eliminate them so the reader isn’t skipping anything. They can then absorb every detail with delight, rather than boredom.
This rule also applies with run on sentences. Cut it down if you can.
THIS IS SO FRIGGIN EXCITING!!!! – Sure, but so was the last thing you put in exclamation points. And the one before that one, and the one before that…
Don’t use exclamation points freely. Give them only to certain points that need to be exclaimed. There is a general rule that you should only use one or two every 100, 000 words. I believe that’s subjective, but that the point really is a good one. If you make everything a big deal, then everything loses its meaning.
Showing When You Need To Be Telling- I will do a blog on this on a later date, specifying the differences between showing and telling, and when they need to be used. But for now, we’ll go over one point here.
Remember the time that you’re Mother wore that all-to-revealing bathing suit to the beach? Or the time your Father walked in at just the wrong time?
When you’re telling those stories to your friends (if you’re brave enough to tell them at all), you don’t tell them every gruesome detail.
Same applies with your writing. Not everything needs to be shown. Your readers don’t need to see your characters having a bowel movement, eating their Cheerios, watching television, or thinking about what they will have for dinner. Sometimes these things are OK to show. Just like everything else, if it progresses the story, then it is important. But if it’s mundane, and there because you want to connect day one, to day two, then it’s just filler.
You can sum up the boring parts in sentences, and keep the exciting parts for the big show.
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