On the Fourth of July, we hear a lot about how unique and creative our country’s citizens are. With that in mind, today’s post is dedicated to jettisoning stale or general words in favor of the fresh and original.
Writing Tip for Today: Let’s start with verbs.
- Vary the Look. One of every scene writer’s banes is trying to keep a character from looking too much. The goal should be to employ as particular a movement as is possible. So a stare, gaze, glare, glance or glower might substitute, but here’s a caveat: If you try too hard, your scene may end up sounding silly. And please, no roving eyes. Your more literal readers will miss your intention if a character’s eyes shoot out a window or swim around the room.
- Choose Your Metaphors, Similes. While metaphors and similes add to the richness of prose, beware of overpopulating your stuff with too many. They all lose meaning and value if there are too many images competing for attention.
- Stay out of the Vague Swamp. One of my buddy John Reed’s favorite bits, the vague swamp is the quagmire of generalized words that fail to give readers a clear picture. So, avoid intensifiers such as: Big, huge, very, really, a bunch, etc. Diminishers: little, small, some, few, tiny. Vague words: Thing, something, anything, stuff, junk. Many more exist. When you write, let concrete sensory detail come to the rescue. It’ll keep your prose out of the vague swamp.