Year nine rewritten, another section of my novel awaits; year ten when grumbling discontent pecks at the ritualistic nature of my anorexic, adolescent existence. I read it over noting the schism between the words on the page and the words I’d like on the page.
I’d love the writing to convey the essence of my experience, clear, varied, unique and unforgettable. I remind myself of the beauty of the creative process. Sometimes it’s frustrating. On those days I sit here, looking out at the rainbows cast by a crystal hanging on the porch and trying to get the words to flow.
The story progresses staccato, clunk, clunk, clunk.
Highlighted text dominates the pages and I begin to hate fluoro-yellow. Correcting an ailing sentence, wastes another ten minutes. I leave it hanging crookedly on the page because I can’t bear to delete it yet. ‘Enter,’ comes to the rescue. Starting a new paragraph is cathartic, words begin to flow taking my story in the direction it chooses to go. I press delete relieved to rid myself of the yellow.
Clunky writing days exhaust me. Reflecting on them, I realise, I’d try to force something soft and gentle that tried to emerge but couldn’t, under the weight of my preconceived constraints. It didn’t want to go there. I had to be gentle in its development allowing the story to unfold naturally. Edits would be necessary, tools for honing the craft and polishing the writing to grip the reader, keeping them engaged by the story.
I googled, words to cut from your writing. The search engine never fails. It bears no emotion. Page after page of options, some are short, some lengthy! I could identify with what I read. Edits, honing, elimination of the unnecessary and annoying… The word count would shrink, an essential dietary measure.
The word ‘was,’ would have to go, along with feel, think, as and like. They seem to be my serial offenders. I am on a mission to find stronger verbs, to show not tell and to use my unique voice to set the scene. It takes time to honour one’s individuality.
This is my take on what I’ve read:
- Use one word rather than two, get rid of the modifier.
- If a sentence makes sense without that,
- Up and down, doesn’t sit imply down?
- Dialogue tags, use them initially to establish who is speaking then drop them. Better still develop characters with a strong voice so you don’t need them at all.
- State things directly. If the character is asking aren’t they wondering?
- Get rid of filler words rather, somewhat, somehow.
- Take care with absolutes always or never. I am writing about teenage me so I’ve included them!
There are no absolute rules in writing. every piece of advice needs to be taken in the context of your individual writing project. Happy honing, happy edits!