Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Tip or Two...

Monica Wood in her book, Description, has some final thoughts at the end. She advises writers with a tip or two. I thought it would be nice to share some with you. And perhaps throw in a couple of my own.

Tip One: Colors. Think outside the crayon box. There's more to life than basic red, blue, green, and so on. What about russet when describing the leaves? Or even giving other descriptive words to naming your colors, like storm-colored or mustard-colored? Be creative and unique.

Tip Two: Adverbs. Many are guilty of tipping the scales when it comes to adverb usage. The author suggests circling them, or perhaps you can highlight them (use the highlighting feature in Microsoft Word if you are doing this on computer). Such an approach will make them obvious to you. Then you can begin the process of tossing them out where needed! One of the situations where writers tend to use adverbs too much is tacking them onto "he said" "she said". Example: "he said loudly" or "she said angrily". Stop it. Stop being so lazy and try harder to be creative.

Tip Three: Adjectives. Do it again...circle, highlight. You want description, of course. But let's not overdo. The broad, green, leafy tree shadowed the skinny, brown-haired, freckle-faced, tired boy. Oh, boy. Stop it. Again, it's too much, too overpowering. Sometimes less really is more. And while you're at it, quit grabbing for the thesaurus or clicking on that shift +F7 every chance you get. Sometimes plain words work just fine. They seem more realistic, for instance, in dialog. After all, do you have a thesaurus in your hand while you talk? I hope not. :-)

Tip Four: Dialog with a smattering of description. When your characters speak, they can be doing other things, too. Nothing wrong with a little multi-tasking. Plus it will break the monotony of lengthy, back-and-forth conversation. Example: "Have you heard from your mom?" Jane glanced up from the table to see Mary's reaction. "You haven't mentioned anything about her recently." Or something like that. Readers can then "see" what's going on with the characters as well as hear what they have to say.

Tip Five: Read aloud. This is one of mine. I've written this before, but it doesn't hurt repeating. When you write, especially dialog, read it back to yourself, but out loud. This will help you decide if it makes sense, sounds realistic, or if you need to polish it up.

Tip Six: Names. Okay, this one may seem trivial, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway. I think it wise to give considerable thought to the choice of names for your characters. I think some names just sound too over the top. Or they don't seem to fit the character. Try getting to know your characters, and then give them names. Again, this may not seem very important, but as a reader as well as writer, I've often wondered about name choices.

Okay, I think that's enough for this time. I hope they help. Give me feedback. If there are others you would like to share? Drop a comment or two :-)


Hunter said...

All fine tips. On the color front, I read a suggetion somewhere about looking to the "paint" industry for color names and insipiration.

Maybe I'll pick up some samples the next time I'm at the hardware store.

As always, thanks.


teacherwriter said...

Hunter...That's a great suggestion. I'm definitely going to check out paint stores and their websites the next time I'm looking for color in my writing :-) Thank you.

plainolebob said...

thanks there are some really good tips here.
like readin loud and all, the character namin ain't that hard for me tho

Poet said...

Certainly names bear a great deal of importance. I liked the advice about overdoing the adverbs and adjectives as well.