Category Archives: Cliches

When To Delete {Editing Tips}

 

editing

All I can say is: be ruthless when it comes to anything that’s — clunky (awkward), redundant, superfluous, extraneous, clichéd, telling, overdone…

When it comes to having a nice fluidity to your narrative you have to ensure you remove things that simply don’t need to be there, simple! Take them out and if it still works then you are on the right track. Some writers think they have to say it in unique and interesting ways. While, to some extent, that might be true it can, if you work too hard, really feel forced. Then it simply doesn’t work! I have seen some wonderful metaphors and similes lost in a crowd of metaphors and similes! The trick is to use such devices sparingly and in just the right place. This gives them power. Got it?

 

Here are just a few things to ponder… I will talk about filler and the things you can lose from the actual story tomorrow!

  • Description — this is important for allowing the reader to really ‘see inside the moment’, to visualise it as you intended them to, but they don’t need every single detail drawn in for them — just enough and perhaps more importantly to create the right mood, or tone, perhaps, even, to create the right sense of danger if you are leading them to the edge of a cliff face, for example. Sparing, yet vivid wins the day! So it really does come down to how you use your words and which ones. And if in a moment of great tension then whatever you do don’t stop to admire the view, make the description an active part of the movement itself. Look at how other writers do it!

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  • Look at things like attributions; the ‘he said/she said’ in dialogue. You will find that a lot of the time you can remove these as long as you can stay with the flow of the conversation. Better to show some body language so we know who said it. And don’t write  ‘they paused’ — create the pause with an action! None of us stop and pause, well not really! Lose adverbs that are redundant if we can see how something is done or said. Lose different words for said when said is just fine (I have talked about this before!) Punchy and sharp!

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  • Lose clichés as these are considered to be lazy prose! The tears streamed down the face… ugh! How about she dabbed her cheeks or some other more interesting way to show she was crying!

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  • Telling tags: These tell why something is done or said when it’s usually obvious! She stopped the man to ask the time because she was worried she was late. Telling! If we see her rush and ask the time as she rushes we can see it, it’s shown! See what I mean?

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  • Lose ‘that’ and ‘very’ and ‘just’: a lot of the time … see some of my deliberate crossings out. Also see the use of italics when I think the word is more functional so I left it in…  The way that he said it made her smile; he was just so angry (more active?); she was very jealous (though better to show this through actions… right?) Also think about some of the adverbs we overuse! Like ‘suddenly‘… So often there is no other way to interpret the action so lose it and just show the action!

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  • Pleonasms: nodding the headshrugging the shoulders; thinking in the mind… Where else? Get the idea?!!!

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The message here is very simple: if you can lose it, lose it. That way the writing becomes sharper! 🙂 Only repeat expressions or use words that are less functional in a sentence when part of character voice and there is a difference as I will show you later in the week!

Happy Tuesdaying!

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Self Editing: Eveything you need to know

I had planned a post at some point similar to this, but when I read the talented Sharon Zink’s page I decided to share it.

Sharon is an amazing writer and I have had her on my blog. She also does the same job as me in that she offers manuscript appraisals; the same level of detail.

So I decided to share this link because it really is a masterclass in writing and everything on here is exactly the kind of thing I say to clients all the time when I assess their manuscripts…

Take heed fellow scribes!

I am now about to write the homecoming chapter on Pelicans… this is exciting, it’s the final chapter when we reveal the last of the missing pieces… and it’s raining so I am loving the sounds of rain on the roof as I write! The morning goes pitter patter… ❤

Have a wonderful day everyone!

http://sharonzink.com/writing-tips/all-first-drafts-are-sht-so-heres-a-masterclass-on-self-editing/

 

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When time seemed to stop and her heart raced …

I don’t want to beat around the bush, but since it’s a case of in for a penny in for a pound, I need to tell you, and don’t burst out laughing so tears are literally streaming down your face, if you’re grinning from ear to ear and don’t think what I will say will get your mind racing and your heart thumping in your chest — but …

Avoid clichés!

Let me say it again:  Avoid clichés!

One more time for emphasis: Avoid clichés!

Some clichés will seem more obvious, some become clichés because you use them so much in the same piece. There are all kinds of clichés we use (and here I don’t mean the metaphorical or plot ones — see below) and because they are used so commonly in our everyday conversations, we tend to use them in our writing. Now I do forgive some used in speech for it to sound natural (some I say) and some writers would argue that a first-person narrative where we really hear a character could get away with it. But I would still prefer to see interesting different quirks in a character voice.

And in the narrative itself — clichés are, sorry to state the obvious, lazy prose.

So how to handle them — well: either just say it how it is and don’t try to be too clever:

Heart racing can often be implied by a tense scene, shown through internal thoughts or external body language; trembling clammy hands, sounds feel muted, legs (are not like jelly or lead weights) but refuse to move. Thoughts like Now come on, it’s nothing. She took another step … are often better for showing tension.

In fact let me tell you — it’s at the moments of greatest tension or extreme joy all those lazy clichés come pouring out, flooding the senses, adrenaline courses through the body — get the picture? So this is where you need to look closest of all to pick it up. When you create tension or joy, as extremes of emotion (rather than some of the more subtle nuances of body language through action) we seem to feel the need to spell out to the reader what is usually: bleeding obvious! How do you think the character will feel?

FILM the scene and show it!

Anyway where was I? Oh yeah the next way to handle clichés, is to write something original and quirky — but be warned as this is when people tend to overwrite something! Watch out for those clunky expressions!

 

cliche

 

If you want some thoughts on the other kind of cliché take a look at this … http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-storytelling-cliches-that-need-to-disappear-forever

Okay I am now off to write for England … or should it be Wales … whatever! Have a great day!

Oh and … avoid clichés!

 

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