Welcome first -time poster Linda George! RU Writers – do you need to make your writing strong, brighter, faster? Then read this lecture and empower your writing!
When a rejection letter says, “Unfortunately, the writing isn’t strong enough to compete in today’s market,” what does that mean?
For years, I attended conferences and asked authors, editors, and agents, “What constitutes strong writing?” Their answers were less than helpful. “Characters that seem real. Dialogue that rings true. A plot that’s suspenseful and compelling.” Most often, they said, “We know strong writing when we see it.” But how could I test my writing to make it stronger?
After more than 30 years of writing professionally, and having more than 70 books published, fiction and nonfiction, for adults, teens, and children, I now know how to recognize strong writing—and how to strengthen weak writing, word by word, sentence by sentence.
Here are five easy ways to make your writing stronger.
1. Cut Unnecessary Words
Strong writing is TIGHT writing. Getting rid of unnecessary words streamlines the writing, increases tension and suspense, and makes the writing stronger. There are dozens of words that often can be omitted without jeopardizing the meaning of sentences. Avoid qualifiers, such as very, just, etc.
considering the fact that
You’ll notice many of these words are adjectives or adverbs. Strong nouns and verbs are your best tools as a writer—they show. Get rid of filler words and qualifiers that tell. Every time you tighten the writing, you strengthen the writing.
2. Eliminate adverbial phrases beginning with “as.”
These phrases have become popular, even among best-selling authors. They indicate simultaneous action, which the reader is asked to picture while reading. But, a reader can read and picture only one action at a time. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, give your reader a break, and strengthen the writing at the same time, by avoiding these phrases.
Example: As he walked to his car, John waved to his daughter as she raced her tricycle into a man as he jogged down the sidewalk.
Stronger: John strolled to his car and waved to his daughter on her tricycle. Before he could yell a warning, she raced into a jogger on the sidewalk and knocked him down.
3. Eliminate Redundancies
We live in a world of redundancies. Generally used to make something sound more important or emphatic, redundant phrases use up precious words and dilute meaning instead of emphasizing. Examples:
Exact same/same exact
Rose to her feet
Stood to his full height
6 a.m. in the morning
absolutely perfect (perfect is an absolute)
red in color
nodded his head
shrugged his shoulders
4. Get Rid of Unnecessary Dialogue Tags and Replace with Action
I once met a writer at a conference who boasted she’d compiled a list of more than 700 words to use other than “said” as dialogue tags. I wondered why she’d wasted all that effort when even “said” isn’t necessary most of the time.
Action from a character in the same paragraph as dialogue from that character identifies the speaker, eliminating the need for “said.”
Example: “Come in the house this minute, young man!” Mom said with an angry scowl on her face.
Stronger: “Come in the house this minute, young man!” Mom slammed the screen door behind her and stood with her hands on her hips, an angry scowl on her face.
5. Eliminate Passive Verbs Whenever Possible
You’ll notice the word “eliminate” instead of “replace.” Often, it’s difficult or impossible to replace “was” with another verb. But it’s often possible to eliminate it altogether by turning the sentence around so the stronger verb following “was” becomes the primary verb.
Example: His eyes were shaded by a tan Stetson.
Stronger: A tan Stetson shaded his face.
Example: The pathway was lined with fragrant petunias.
Stronger: Fragrant petunias lined the pathway.
Not all sentences can be turned around this way. If the sentence rebels, leave the passive verb. Most sentences, though, brighten and get stronger when the passive verbs are eliminated.
KISS ME, LYNN will be a FREE download on Amazon August 2-6! Photos have been posted on my website so readers can see the places included in the tour in the book. Www.LindaGeorge.net
RU Writers – give us a hint, what are your favorite weak/strong words?
Join us tomorrow for Does Your Series Tell a “Bigger Story”? by Susan Spann.
Bio: Linda George has been a professional writer for 35 years and is the author of more than 70 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults, teens, and children. Since 2013, Linda has focused on writing romance—contemporary, historical, and time travel. She lives in West Texas and spends as much time as possible at their “little piece of paradise” near Cloudcroft in the New Mexico mountains.
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