We talk all the time about character, plot and world. But I was thinking about the last bunch of books I read and wondering about what it was that made the difference for me between LOVE IT and EH. What I realized surprised me. If the writing itself was beautiful and seamless I was able to dive into the story and characters and world so much easier. If there were simple errors that I've been taught I should avoid in my own work, I had a harder time and found myself pulled out and ultimately enjoyed it less.
Here are just a few tips for things to look for when you revise that might make the difference for your reader:
- Avoid cliches. Particularly when using comparisons like metaphors. I know it's tough, but time spent thinking of fresh ways to say things really goes a long way.
- Vary sentence and paragraph structure. Don't start every line with I. Make sure the page is a mix of dialogue and description. It makes a difference!
- Don't repeat yourself. Find the best, most unique way to say something and trust us to get it. If it's important, spend more time and detail on it than other places.
- Lose the helping verbs. Don't be passive. Make everything you can active and in the moment. She had followed the footsteps should be She followed the footsteps.
- Search and destroy. Find the words you use too much, locate superfluous adverbs and adjectives and see if they are needed. If there are two or more in one place, pick one.
Will you miss some things? Heck yeah! You're human and that's why we have other eyes besides our own looking at our work. But we should get our work in it's best form before putting it out there. It's worth the effort.
What distracts you about writing when you're reading a book?