Archives for style

Prosodies, Threnodies, And Maladies

The indie-writers movement is a thing of great internal variety. Indeed, the one thing we have in common is that we publish our own crap. However, our offerings do display some differences, statistically at least, from the drivel that Pub World puts out. In particular, Pub World fiction puts more emphasis on style than does indie fiction. Indies tend to emphasize plot and excitement. That cleavage probably derives, at least in part, from the reason we write: the kinds of stories that thrilled us as readers have become rare among Pub World offerings. That’s certainly part of my motive power:
Read More

Writing Style Reminders

Trying to explain a style of writing is something like trying to nail jello to a tree. You can try all you want, but it’s just not going to work. Writing style is as different as there are writers in the world. Everyone has their own style of writing. A way or combining words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs that is uniquely their own. In the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, they devote an entire section to style. Do they explain it as a set of rules? No. Not hardly. But, what they do is give
Read More

I think I should warn you about something…

In my last article about Show and Tell (here), I briefly mentioned Foreshadowing. I have been inundated by five emails demanding I explain a little more about this useful writing tool. So here goes… Many eons ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out, I decided to become a writer. Little did I know what the future held in store for me… That’s foreshadowing for you. What have I just done? I have created tension, expectancy in my readers – yes, I’ve manipulated their emotional response again and pressed the ‘Reader Engagement’ button. Now that’s just one way you can use
Read More

I Heard You the First Time

…Repetition as enemy to style and cadence. Even great writers make mistakes. I can usually tell when it’s an editing oversight, or the fault of the author. An editor’s oversight seems a simultaneous contradiction, in that it can mean “overlook”, but also “seeing-over,” as in monitoring–same word, two opposite meanings. Accordingly, when I use the word “mistake” in this context, it doesn’t necessarily imply the condition of being WRONG. I use the word, “mistake” loosely. What I’m really talking about are stylistic errors. But telling someone how to have a writing style, is like telling someone how to have clothing
Read More

Voice: First & Third Person

One of the most difficult things to master for me (and many other writers) is VOICE. This challenge trudges through the morass of other subjects like past tense vs. present tense, or past perfect tense, flashbacks, omniscience. . . Which Person? In fiction, the overwhelming majority of books are written in Third-Person. There are cogent reasons for this. One pertinent reason is that when you use First-Person, you are restricted to only what your main character is privy too. So if you need some clandestine goings-on, this wouldn’t serve you. In First-Person, your main character has to be present all
Read More

Purple Prose & Metaphoric Misdemeanors

  * as usual, these are my opinions, based on my own experience of writing and editing for the last 25 or so years. Not all writers, editors and readers will agree, and that’s fine. I offer it as valuable information I learned which made me a better writer, in hopes it will help another writer reach that goal. Writers, beware: You must NOT fall in love with your words. You must fall in love with your craft. That’s the thesis for this entire post, but read on, if you want details. I am forever mortified by the details that
Read More

Should I bother with Writing Rules?

All my writing life I have come across Rules. Of late, however, the prevalence of these, and worse, people happily quoting them as though they were The Only Way To Write, has become a bane. Let’s get a few things clear, especially for newbie writers out there who may be inadvertently lured in by these snippets of writing wisdom. Writing Rules are usually written by successful writers; often quoted out of context; offer no guarantees whatever (thank God!); and can easily lead a writer astray. You may be mistaken for thinking that if you follow Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for
Read More