Writing is hard. Difficult. Okay, it’s the kick in your stomach when you are working like a demon to scrape the words out of your dissolute soul.The words refuse to arrive like the A-list celebrities you invited to your party. Your characters snottily refuse to talk to you, your descriptions fall flatter than gluten-free pancakes, and your inner world sucks.
W. Somerset Maugham said:
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
You can construct a plot, get the pacing just right, create compelling characters but if the words on the page are lackluster the story just isn’t going to fly. Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Brain Secrets of Lexical Density
Pro-Writing Aid, an online program that analyzes your writing and gives you recommendations to improve it. As I was looking at a report on a piece it gave the number of adverbs and recommended that I remove three.
I must have missed this before but I do tend to use the old editor, instead of the report on the new editor.
With a word count and a number of allowed adverbs in hand, I calculated the percentage of adverbs that Pro-Writing Aid said I could use.
And I was shocked.
Those of us that ply the writer’s craft are aware of all the different pieces of advice from different writers, editors, and pundits that basically boil down to “use fewer words to express your thoughts.”
Adverbs, in particular, have received a bum rap. Stephen King wrote in On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft:Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.
I took some creative license in the title because we all know there aren’t any rules in writing. There is just some incredibly strong advice. The “rules” vary widely from writer to writer and even from genre to genre.
But there do seem to a few general “rules” floating out there that were captured by a Guardian article where they printed the rules of Elmore Leonard, whose rules seem to be derigeur today.
1.) Never open a book with the weather
2.) Avoid Prologues
3.) Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4.) Never use an adverb to modify “said.”
5.) Keep your exclaimation points under control.
6.) Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
7.) Use regional dialect and foreign words sparingly.
8.) Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9.) Don’t go into great detail describing places and things
10.) Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.
Other general admonitions handed out to beginning writers are “show, not tell” which runs along thing lines of Leonard’s eight, ninth and tenth rule. Writers are encourage to “show” what is happening rather than telling or writing the story like a news report.
Leonard’s rules seem to lean toward a lean and clean prose that doesn’t bog the reader down with word thick prose. Anything not essential to the telling of the immediate story is stripped away. What he seems to be leaning toward is “readability,” the facility of the prose to communicate to as many readers as possible.Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules
According to the study, Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels, by Stony Brook University’s Vikas Gajingunte Ashok, Song Feng and Yejin Choi, whether or not a book will sell can be determined by several quantifiable factors.
The researchers downloaded classic literature from the Project Gutenberg archive, used more recent award-winning novels and analyzed low-ranking books on Amazon — and included genres from science fiction to classic literature and even poetry.
Successful books utilized a high percentage of nouns and adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, determiners and adjectives. They found that successful books made great use of conjunctions to join sentences (“and” or “but”) and prepositions than less successful books.
Less successful books had a higher percentage of verbs, adverbs, and foreign words. Such books also relied heavily on clichés, extreme and negative words. Less successful books also rely on dull verbs that describe direct action, such as “took,” “promised” and “cried,” while more successful books use more verbs that describe thought-processing, such as “recognized” and “remembered.”Continue reading The Craft of Writing: Lexical Density and You