Happy Monday morning to all of you, how fast these weeks are flying.
One of the words I often find myself using with writers I edit for is ‘clunky’ which is a word I have come to find useful when describing word-heavy or awkward phrasing.
Writers tend to feel they can’t just say it but have to find what they think is a ‘writerly’ way when often it’s not. It clunks. These are those long sentences that when read aloud just snag you. Things like (she tries to pluck a good example from the air) He knew that he would have to tell her even if he didn’t want to or she would find out anyway. Yes it might make sense but it’s flat and awkward. Add energy to this by showing someone’s worry in their body language and perhaps something like: He’d have to tell her. What if she found out? He closed his eyes; felt for the edges of his crumpled handkerchief…
See what I mean?The other place we tend to overwrite is at the moments of greatest tension when we have a real tendency to pull all those favourite clichés out of the bag (hmm yes that is a cliché). So look at places where you feel the need to say the mind was racing, heart pumping (I’d hope so!), adrenaline coursing… these are not only clunky clichés but they also tend to be melodramatic. And if you have lots of dramatic moments these repeat so we start to see the same thing. Don’t do that either. When you need to express drama think about slowing down the writing at these key moments and really SHOWING the drama. Use internal thought… what the hell was that? Use action … he turned, slowly … and most of all really put the reader in that moment. Have a clunk-free Monday folks!