Friday, March 13, 2009

Dull words per page keep the readers away.

Have you ever picked up a book that you could not put down? And while you’re still reading the book, you are already planning on buying the authors previously published books?

After publishing two books and selling four more, one would think I now know how to avoid using dull words for my stories. I wish.

Right now, the book I am writing is deader than a doornail. My verbs aren’t leaping the way they should be. In short—boring. I suppose writing with vague verbs is a common writing fault. So what should a writer do to keep their stories from going flat?

Frustrated, I started rummaging through my old writing, notes, and comments my English instructor gave me. I found my scribbles about active and descriptive verbs—the handholds. Words that change dull words to something interesting. Goodie! I thought. But reading about finding the verbs (you know the one that convey the action performed by subject) I nearly fell asleep. I already know about the stinking verbs. But do I really? If I did, my story wouldn’t be so boring and my characters would be clearly described.

While reading, something occurred to me. Maybe even seasoned authors go over their books looking for dull verbs and changing them into leaping action ones. Seasoned authors must have nailed the use of verbs that’s why they write fantastic stories. It may sound basic but verbs are the colorful icing on the white cake. It helps liven up stories. LOL. You must be thinking, “Geez, Tierney. We already know that.” Well, in that case, good for you. But to those of us who have a bad habit of using dull verbs, we need this reminder and perhaps a little help.

So if you are like me, share a line/s in your book that you think is dull. Leave it in the comments box. Hopefully, readers, authors, editors, or everyone who happens to visit will show us how to change the line/s into a colorful one. Or share how you change your vague lines to a more interesting one. Share! :D


Mark Alders said...

Great post, Tierney!

What a great idea asking people to post a dull line to get it un-dullified! (is that a word?) lol


MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

I don't worry so much about that on rough drafts - but then I'm a compulsive rereader, so I'm constantly tweaking as I go. For me, getting the story on the paper is the main thing - then comes the substitutions. However, a good way to get the right verbs out of the gate, is to employee screenwriting techniques to your prose. There you have to use the most powerful and concise verbs you can to convey the message. One of the best classes I ever took was on screenwriting. I recommend every writer do it, even if you never plan to write a screenplay.


Margay said...

Yes, but I wonder how many seasoned authors get it right the first time. I'm sure even they have to do another pass before their prose shines.

Gracen Miller said...

I agree with Margay on this, Tierney. I don't think seasoned authors get it right the first time around.

And I agree with MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott getting the rough draft out is important and like Mancos/Scott I am constantly re-reading and editing as I go along, but sometimes I just have to think to myself "I'll fix that later" and carry on with the writing.

That said, you've got me thinking about my current book that I've shoved to the side. The heroine is flavorless to me, just so blah she makes me want to bang my head against the wall, so now, I'm thinking maybe I need to go back and check my verbs. lol I think it's going to take a much more major overhaul than that to get her right, but at least it's a start.

Insightful post today, Tierney!

Gracen Miller

Sierra Wolfe said...

Great post, Tierney! Sometimes we forget to think about these things. I'm with the group, just get it down on paper and then go back to edit it. I'll never be able to write clean the first time out. I don't think anyone can, not even seasoned writers. The best advice I've ever received from an old english teacher will always apply...revise, revise, revise.

Lisa Griffin said...

Great post Tierney. I'll need to check my work. lol.

Thalia_Leigh said...

I can't help but refine and polish, finding verbal gremlins months later. Once a ms is accepted, I drive editors blippo going through it over and over again, never satisfied.

For an oral girl, I can be awfully anal,.

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