Monday, April 4, 2011

And... ACTION!

We all hear it, all the time. “Use stronger verbs. Get rid of adverbs.”
“But I love my choices of adverbs!” you say. “They add so much!”
Do they?
Let’s take the classic example: “He walked across the room.”
Okay, add strength. “He walked forcefully across the room.”
Consider: “He strode across the room.” Now we have forcefulness.
“He crossed the room in three strides.” Now we have force plus a concept of distance.
“He shuffled across the room.” Is he using a walker?
“He freighted his bulk up the stairs.” A big guy, right? 
Another common one: “She looked at the man.”
Let’s add surprise.
Consider: “She looked with surprise at the man.”
“She gawked at the man.” She’s taking an open-mouthed gander!
“She glared at the man.” Anger!
“She studied the man.” A thorough look.
“She ogled the man.” Good butt, huh? 
One more: “He ate the cake.”
Add enjoyment.
“He enjoyed eating the cake.” Okay, but…
Consider: “He gobbled the cake.” Must be chocolate! 
“He picked at the cake.” Not so great a cake?
“He nibbled at the cake.” A polite eater.
“He sucked down the cake.” A teenager, perhaps?
Now go to your work in progress. Find ‘walked,’ ‘looked,’ and ‘eat/ate.’ Add some oomp to those verbs, and send the adverbs to lunch!
A hint: a Thesaurus is a writer’s best friend!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry
Blog. Twitter. Face book.
As soon as I hear the words, my mind goes blank. What do I say? And who will care? If I have nothing spectacular to say, should I say it anyway? Does anyone really care how many loads of dirty laundry I did today, or how many pages I wrote? What about edits?
Electronic media has taken over. A writer’s writing day is filled with getting words down on paper: the WIP, the blog, Face book updates. Interactions with colleagues, virtual and otherwise. Reading others’ blogs, visiting favorite sites, networking with others.
Building a platform, one word at a time. A hard job, but I can do it.
Twitter? A bird of another color. “Nothing earth-shaking going on here worth tweeting,” I say. “Three loads of laundry down, four to go,” Tweet I. Someday I hope to have something fabulous to report. In the meantime, mundane will have to do.
Building a nest, one tweet at a time.
A hard job, but I can do it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Color Your World

Color Your World
What colors do you choose when you write? The usual spectrum doesn’t do justice to good writing. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet. Brown. White. Black.
Branching out into other common color descriptions doesn’t help: maroon, emerald, aqua, chocolate, charcoal, and the like.
How can you punch up your prose? Consider tying the color to your subject matter. Does your hero love the ocean? Green could become seaweed. Does he love motorcycles? Silver might become chrome, or nickel-plated.
Is he into hockey? White as ice? Black as a puck? Red as a nosebleed on center ice?
How about your heroine? Does she love to bake? Brown becomes cinnamon or nutmeg or toast. White as coconut? Yellow as saffron?
Maybe she paints—a huge array of color names are in a paint box. Alizarin crimson instead of red.
Consider color descriptors that fit your story. Carnal red, for example, in erotica. Lab coat white for a doctor story. Pull up the environment in your imagination and go for it.
Good sources for unique color descriptors:
-Raid your spice drawer and cupboards.
-Cruise your household. Walk the neighborhood.
-Clothing catalogs.
-Art supply catalogs.
Take a clipboard, write down what you find, and blend with your prose. Make your reader say “I love that description!”