Home again, home again. And the first thing I've noticed is the QUIET. Bourbon street's noise doesn't stop until about 3am, for those of you thinking of staying in the Big Easy. But it was fun.
I'm reviewing the notes on my manuscript from my agent, and I'm seeing an embarrassing theme: weak writing. She didn't call it such, but I can tell through the different patters of what she wants changed that that's what it is.
Weak writing is not just using passive verbs or cliches, it's how you present your character's voice. It's how your character or narrator describes things. My problem? I use a lot of "sort of", "about", "I felt", and "I thought".
For example, I wrote "I felt a bullet whiz by my head". Well, if I had just written "A bullet whizzed by my head", whiz becomes the active verb, not felt, and the reader can kind of assume that the narrator FELT the damn thing, right?
Thoughts too can slow down a manuscript and make it weak. Here's a great example of a chapter ending that demonstrates that less is more.
ME: "My eyes grew wide as I tried to soak it all in. I thought I was dreaming and my whole body went numb. I was staring into the eyes of my father."
CAITLIN: "My eyes grew wide. I was staring at my father."
Less is more here because I'm TELLING too much and not letting the reader use his or her imagination. Blunt, to the point writing has a much more powerful impact, especially at this kind of a revelation. More words drag it out and make it much weaker.
So when you're thinking of strong writing, don't just think in terms of the verb "to be". Think in terms of hearing the story yourself around a campfire. Would you yawn at this point and shout "get on with it!" or would you get hit in the gut and say "whoa."?
Hopefully the latter.
Anyway, back to revisions. Gotta get this done before Friday's meeting with Caitlin!
I'm starting a new book today with that as the title. "The Strength To Stand Up. Memoirs of an Unemployed Man." People have...
Great time had at the SCBWI conference on Saturday! And a big hello to my friends from that conference who've hopefully joined us here....