Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Writing is a perilous journey. What can you write about that hasn't already been said by someone else, more succinctly. By the way, isn't that a cool word, "succinctly"? I don't get to use it much. There's a reason for that.

Words are like fine liquor or the curl of a big wave or the breeze in the evergreens or snow falling on cedars  (see what I mean about things having been said?). Or words can be like a four dollar bottle of Vodka, a stagnant pond, a whiff from the dump or the draught in Texas. Words like succinctly, a dreaded adverb, conjure up all sorts of images.

"Now he won't bother you anymore," she said succinctly, dropping the still smoking gun into her handbag.

What kind of woman is this? Probably someone from a pulp fiction novel, but you get my drift. Any editor would gag at a line like that. "Sweetly" would be better, but it's still an adverb. Got to watch out for those little suckers.

Then there are adjectives, endless lines of them. Every struggling writer seeks the right one, the only one that will convey just the right feeling and tone.

Fageddabout it.

Write what you want. You can change it later, if you must. Making something more complex or descriptive may not be the answer.

How about "said" for attribution? Everywhere, aspiring writers are sternly warned to avoid this dreaded word, as in "he said" or if you like, "she said succinctly."

Have you read anything by Lee Child lately? He only happens to be one of the very best around, selling millions of books, as well he should. They are damn good. You might notice that "Reacher said" is a common phrase in his books. Didn't seem to hurt him any.

It's true I was blessed by an excellent education and strength in the English language. That has made it easier to be a writer. It didn't help much when it came to editing, though. That is a whole different animal, as they say on the airline with the wolf on its tail. If you don't have an editor, editing is something you have to learn the hard way. Most Indie writers don't have one, a reason many Indie books fail to reach the writer's potential.

I recommend Stephen King's memoir On Writing to everyone for openers. I also recommend that you don't burn yourself out on all those books and courses telling you how to write the Great American Novel or short story. There's only so much of that you can absorb, much less put to use. I don't believe Hemingway or Thomas Wolfe or Steinbeck took a lot of writing courses or read a lot of books on how to write, but I might be mistaken.

If you are serious about writing I refer you to the Nike philosophy: Just Do It.

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