Tips and Tidbits
If you’ve been hanging out in the same writing neighborhood as I’ve been lately, you might be aware I’ve been doing a lot of research on how tight writing and the use of white space are critical in our busy world.
Today’s reader employs different criteria to choose a book to read than in previous times. You can be one jump ahead of other writers if you eliminate, as Elmore Leonard says, “the stuff that readers skip over.”
Write shorter paragraphs, hit the enter key more often to create white space, and readers will give your writing serious consideration.
To further make your writing shine, learn to avoid “Editing Nightmares,” as identified by author and publishing consultant Barbara Florio Graham.
Using full justification, which results in too many hyphenated words, unless you really like to annoy your reader. Instead try a ragged right edge, which avoids hyphens and is easier to read.
Mixing styles when you indent a paragraph and follow it with a double space. If your goal is to have a paragraph stand out, you can do so by either strategy. If you use both, you’re going to pay more for extra pages and risk annoying your reader who expects more story than what they get.
Tip: Use the extra space you eliminate by hitting enter more often to make your important dialogue, etc. stand out.
The use of dashes, when a comma would work just as well. And don’t ever double space after marks that end a sentence. Totally passé as well as a space waster.
Long quotes. Dialogue moves the story along but use only key dialogue in quotes and use narrative summary for the rest.
Example: The protagonist answers the phone and engages in lines of chit chat: “Hello; how are you? How’s the wife and kids; how’s work going?”
Instead: “Greg, it’s me. I’ve got bad news.” Followed by this narrative: In the next tortuous minutes, he tells his friend about his wife’s car accident.
Inconsistent tenses annoy and confuse the reader, who struggles to figure out the sequence of events. Don’t switch from past to present and remember to use past perfect when describing events or actions long past.
Example: He hadn’t ridden his motorcycle since the accident five years ago.
Too much backstory. Readers become annoyed when they must wade through details, when what they really want is to get to the meat of the story.
Rushing to publish without using beta readers and a good editor.
Follow Barbara at: www.simonteakettle.com/
In the Rhythm of Writing