7. Language and Style

Page 8 of 10 | Casting a Spell | Viewpoint | First Person | Third Person | Author's Voice | Style | Dialogue |
Keep It Strong | Keep It Active | Try This at Home! |

Keep It Strong!
You want your writing to have pizzazz, spark, and electricity. The last thing you want is for readers to put your story down because the prose seems listless and unexciting.

One way to do this is to keep your writing as tight and sharp as possible. Unnecessary words slow your prose and rob it of vividness. Avoid flab. Extra adjectives and adverbs, unneeded prepositional phrases, even unnecessary sentences are all enemies in the war against literary flab.

Choose your words with care. Whenever possible, use strong verbs, nouns, and modifiers rather than weak ones. Strive for vividness and specific detail.

Compare the following sentences:
He put the book down on the table.
He rested the book reverently on the table.
He slammed the book onto the table.
The first sentence is weak because it's vague, general; it tells you he set the book down, but nothing about how he did it, or with what feeling. The second and third sentences tell you something about what he was feeling, revealed through his action. Note that "rested" and "slammed" are both stronger verbs than "put" because they tell you more.

Here's another example:
Jane crossed the room in a hurry and opened the door with great excitement.

Instead, how about:
Jane strode across the room and threw the door open expectantly.


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