18 December 2009

Writing badly

Writing for a few years doesn't make me a writing expert, but it has given me a little distance and perspective on my own work. Now, I can see some of the flaws in my style. In fiction, I overuse the characters' names. The reader doesn't have to be hit over the head with whose talking, now. You can use subtle cues, differences in their speech patterns, the occasional "he or she". Overuse of character names can sound like nagging, and gives an unpolished feel.

And I've developed a new and annoying habit of describing in negatives. So instead of saying "he was hot", I say "he wasn't cold". Bah. My new motto has to be, if I see a negative, weed it out. The problem is, just occasionally, a negative is either necessary or provides a useful emphasis.

The final problem (that I'm willing to admit to today, there are more) has followed me throughout my writing--adverbs. I know a strong verb is better than endless adverbs, but adverbs seduce me. Why say "she snapped", when I could say, "she said, angrily"? Clearly, snapped is the stronger phrase, but I'm addicted.

I'll whisper a final, lifelong fault--"that" peppers all my writing. Fortunately, Ctrl F is my friend, here.

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