Quick And Dirty Tips For Writers
Don't use a lot of punctuation or involved punctuation, it stops the reader's journey if s/he has to figure it all out before going on. Also, beware the deadly exclamation point. Use it only when the character is shouting!!!! And then, only once! There is nothing more revealing of inexperience than a bunch of exclamation points.
You can cancel the need for big, bad, bright, bunches of braggart brazen adverbs and adjectives just by using stronger nouns. This will always be an improvement. For instance:
"He ran viciously and vapidly through the room like an envoy." [No]
“He ran through the room like a sprinter on fire.” [Yes]
Always try to come up with stronger and more visual nouns that will give the reader a strong, clear picture of what you want them to see, and that will draw them along with you.
After all, this is a form of magic—to put your ideas and visions into somebody else's head. Think about that a moment.
Use the perfect word. Pick words that will project that picture. If it's not the right word, don't use it.
It's OK to consult the thesaurus. The one in MS Word is good, but it still pays to have a copy of a big ol' paper one like Webster's New World Thesaurus. Find the exact perfect word, it could be the smile in your Mona Lisa.
The fewer words the better. It telegraphs what you want to show.
If you get too involved with being brilliant and wordy, then you tangle the silver thread you've been silently weaving through the darkness of the enthralled reader's mind (see, I overdid it).
Do you want the reader to be impressed with your verbiage or do you want them drawn into your story? Do you want them breathless with suspense, dying to turn the page? Your writing should enhance the work, not hinder it.
Don't go on and on for pages of description alone, or dialogue alone. It's much more interesting to have both blended together.
Some would argue dialogue is preferable, more immediate and involving to the mind of the reader. But stay away from long paragraphs of dialogue, keep it short and punchy, back and forth, like this:
The Dragon Queen said, “The Americans again, with their silly ‘Flying Saucers.’”
The Dragon King lowered his chin an inch. He said, “I find this irritating.”
“It was easier before.”
“Yes. I can fix it, King."
“But we don’t want to be impetuous.”
“It’s still a threat to deal with.”
“A primitive threat.” He took a long draw of opium smoke from the water pipe. He exhaled.
He said, “All right. Use the one they call, what is it—the ‘Martin-Pêcheur.’ ”
"Yes," he said, "the Kingfisher—they beat their prey to death and rip it apart. I like that. Use that one."
Try to end the chapter with something punchy, startling, or a hook into the next chapter. By using the closing remark from the man above, I (try to) make you wonder who he is, why he's like this, and why he would want someone beaten and torn apart. What will he do next? Who's this Kingfisher? What's his part in this? Why and what is the Dragon Queen talking about, "flying saucers"? Who are these people? What is the source of their power?
See? Always—constantly—build interest, involvement, suspense, and movement. Use action, and goings-on. We monkeys like to watch that sort of thing.
Causes Jeffrey Friedberg Supports