5 Quotes About Rewriting

1. “You write your first draft with your heart, and you rewrite with your head.”
―James Ellison, Finding Forrester: A Novel

2. “You become a great writer by writing lots and lots of stories, not by rewriting the same story over and over again.”
―Scott William Carter

3. “Writing a first draft is like groping one’s way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you’ve forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one’s mind comes to inhabit the material fully.”
―Ted Solotaroff

4. “Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.”
—Joan Didion

5. “The process of rewriting is enjoyable, because you’re not in that existential panic when you don’t have a novel at all.
—Rose Tremain

Breaking the Rules

My writing tip from yesterday was about run-on sentences. A couple of you mentioned how it’s okay to break the rules sometimes, and I agree. It gave me an idea for today’s post.

I’ve asked you about your favorite writing tip in the past. This time, I’m going to ask you about your least favorite one.

There are so many rules on writing, like avoid adjectives and adverbs, use active voice, use strong verbs and nouns, avoid long sentences, avoid clichés, and the list goes on. Most of these rules are great, but once in a while, there are some we just have to break.

If you could break one writing tip, which one would it be?

Here’s a longer list of writing tips.
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/writing_rules.html

Writing Tip #13: Run-on sentences

If you’re exhausted or confused after reading a sentence, chances are, you just read a run-on sentence.

Reading a run-on sentence is like listening to someone telling you a story without pausing or taking a breath. It’s exhausting.

What is a run-on sentence?
A run-on sentence contains two or more parts, with each one able to stand on its own. It’s a sentence made up of independent clauses that have been mixed together, without correct punctuation or conjunction.

Examples:
Wrong: It’s raining outside I need to bring an umbrella.
Right: It’s raining outside. I need to bring an umbrella.

Wrong: I look forward to dinner tonight I can’t wait to taste the mushroom risotto.
Right: I look forward to dinner tonight. I can’t wait to taste the mushroom risotto.

Wrong: I stayed up all night editing my book, I almost fell asleep a few times, I hope I didn’t miss anything.
Right: I stayed up all night editing my book. I almost fell asleep a few times. I hope I didn’t miss anything.

Run-on sentences don’t necessarily have to be long. They can be short but still contain two or more independent clauses.

To fix a run-on sentence, you can add the right punctuation marks, or split up the different parts by starting new sentences.

Test your skills and take this quiz on run-on sentences:
Quiz

My First Guest Blogger

Today’s Writing Tip will be coming from my very first Guest Blogger, Robin Coyle. Robin and I met through wordpress.com. Her kind comments on my posts, mixed in with her witty sense of humor have always stood out to me. When I finally got around to thinking about finding a Guest Blogger, I thought of her first. Thanks Robin for writing today’s guest post.

Writing Tip #11: Moldy Verbs, Adverbs, and Intensifiers
By: Robin Coyle

Corey asked me to do a guest post on her blog Corey M.P. and I accepted with delight. She is a talented writer, wise, and all-around sweet person. Her prompt for my guest post was “writing tips.”

What is the best piece of writing advice you received?
I’ve learned volumes since I took on the job of “novelist.” Distilling it all, two things caused me to go back to my “finished” novel, In Search of Beef Stroganoff, and spend hours editing, editing, editing. The advice transformed my writing from “pretty good and readable” to “writing with punch.”

Use vigorous verbs.

And

Let there be a pox on adverbs and intensifiers.

When I learned these two tips, they really made me a better writer and were very helpful in making me be a more critical reader.

Yikes Robin, why didn’t you follow those tips when you wrote the above sentence?

Ok, smarty-pants. Allow me to rewrite the sentence.

When I digested these two tips, I evolved as writer and now read others’ work with a critical eye.

“Learned these two tips” became “digested these two tips.”

“Really made me” became “I evolved.”

“Very ” disappeared.

“More critical reader” became “critical eye.”

I now pause at every verb and ask, “Is there a stronger verb out there?” So . . .

“Walked purposefully” became “strode.”

“I turned quickly on my heel” changed to “I spun.”

Rather than “she ran out of the room,” my character “raced for the exit.”

When a vigorous verb replaces a weak one, the sentence springs to life.

I am embarrassed to say in an early draft of my novel I described a closet as “very, very, small.”  That closet is now “miniscule.” I nuked every: very, really, much, so, and too.” I went on the hunt for “ly” words – adverbs that made the text lay flat on the page like yesterday’s toast.

“She was extremely hungry” became “she was ravenous.”

“Amazingly, she made it to work on time and wasn’t fired” was better when rewritten to say, “She averted being fired when she clocked in at the strike of one-minute-late.”

I kept one blatant string of adverbs because I liked how they sounded together and it fit the moment in the story.

“I covered my eyes in the hope he would go away, but he pulled me close as we danced to The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” I was so incredibly, positively, and magnificently turned on. Those Brits know how to write a lyric.”

It wouldn’t have the same feel if it read, “It was an incredible, positive, and magnificent turn on.” Blah. Boring. Yawn.

Slashing moldy verbs, adverbs, and intensifiers will transform your writing. It did mine.

Thanks for the opportunity to do a guest post Corey. You rock!

Check out Robin’s blog at: robincoyle.wordpress.com

Writing Tip #8: Get Rid of Intensifiers

Intensifiers: Words found before adjectives and adverbs used to intensify or dramatize an effect.

Examples: Very, extremely, so, terribly, totally, quite, really, most, etc.

Do they look familiar? If you think you’ve used the words above, it’s probably a good idea to double-check your work.

Using intensifiers can weaken your sentences and make your writing sound amateurish.

For instance:
Weak: I’m extremely hungry and very tired. I really want to go home now.
Strong: I’m hungry and tired. I want to go home now.

As seen in the example above, the intensifiers make the sentences wordy and weak. Taking them out simplifies and strengthens them.

Use intensifiers sparingly or avoid them altogether and see the difference.

Favorite Writing Tip

Today’s post will be a little different. Instead of me posting a Writing Tip of the Day, I thought I’d try something new and ask you: “What’s your favorite writing tip/advice?

I’ll start. My favorite writing tip is from Ernest Hemingway:
Use short sentences.

Plain and simple. So, what’s yours?

Writing Tip #6: Watch Out for Misused Words

I see it happen all the time. Nope, they’re not typos. They’re misused words. They may sound alike, but they are nothing alike.

Here are the most common ones I’ve seen:
farther and further: Farther refers to distance; further refers to extent or degree
lie and lay: In the present tense, lie means to rest; lay means to put or to place
foreword and forward: Foreword is a noun that means an introductory note or preface; Forward is an adjective or adverb that means toward the front:
it’s and its: It’s is a contraction for it is; its is the possessive form of it
past and passed: Passed functions as a verb; past functions as a noun, adjective, or preposition
than and then: Than is a conjunction used in making comparisons; then is an adverb indicating time
their, they’re and there: Their is the possessive form of they; there refers to place; and they’re is the contraction of they are.
your and you’re: Your is the possessive form of you; you’re is the contraction you are

There are also misused words that don’t sound alike:
each other and one another: Each other is used to refer to two people; one another is used to refer to more than two people.
number and amount: Use number to things that can be counted; use amount for things that cannot be counted.

Don’t forget to check your emails and manuscripts for misused words before sending them out.

To see a longer list of misused words, check out my resources:
Easily Confused or Misused Words
The Little Red Writing Book

Writing Tip #3: Want a stronger manuscript? Watch out for overused words.

A few days ago, I posted a tip about not overusing the word “suddenly”.

But aside from “suddenly”, we all know that there are plenty of other words we can overuse and not even notice.

So out of curiosity, I googled “overused words”, hoping to get a list I can look at, instead I got links to websites with editing tools that can help you search for overused words and also catch other mistakes. Woohooh!

If you’re in the middle of editing your manuscript, I suggest you check out the links below.

Note: I’ve only tried Pro Writing Aid, and so far, it’s pretty helpful.

http://www.prowritingaid.com/analyse.htm?

http://www.autocrit.com/cs-cart/pricing.php

http://www.christophermpark.com/manalyzer.php

If you want more tips on overused words, here is a link to author, Terry Odell’s blog:

http://terryodell.blogspot.com/2011/02/over-and-over-and-overused-words.html

Yes, I know I’ve overused the words overuse/overused/overusing on this post. But I’m trying to make a point. 😉