As writers we can become so caught up in telling our story, that we inadvertently slip into bad habits which can offend the reader’s intelligence. I’m talking about simple issues which we can become more mindful of. So here’s a list to aid you.
“He grinned happily.” Here, the obvious is stated with the verb “grinned,” and the adverb “happily” isn’t needed for your reader to understand the context of what you’ve written. One should just say, “He grinned.”
“She screamed loudly.” Um, as opposed to screaming softly? I know I got the meaning from “she screamed.” What about you?
“She whispered quietly.” Because one can whisper loudly?
Yeah, I imagine my meaning is becoming clear on adverb overuse. As writers, we simply need to take care when using them. We need to consider what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Which brings me to the times when you will need to take your verb and add an essence which is more than what’s being implied. In those cases you will need to extend. Eg– “She whispered conspiratorially.” “She whispered hastily.” There’s a reason beyond, and here you’re taking the whisper and specifically quantifying it, and that’s all good.
Ellipses (…) Yes, Those Three Dots
Even though I understand why writers use ellipses, that they wish to make the scene more dramatic with a pause, I…still…cringe…because…I…want…to…read…faster. See, annoying isn’t it?
Although my moment of humor aside, I can’t deny ellipses do have their place so don’t get me wrong, but what I’m asking is that you take care with them, ensuring you only use them where absolutely necessary. Think sparingly–that’s best.
Unnecessary Point Proving
Here are some examples–
He stormed from the room in anger.
He scowled with condemnation.
She cried tears of frustration.
In the first example the character is “storming from the room in anger.” Say this has arisen from a heated argument between your characters, then your reader will understand he’s angry because you’ve portrayed it correctly. Readers don’t need things spelled out to them. You can just say, “He stormed from the room.” The second and third examples are the same. If the scene shows your hero’s condemnation and your heroine’s frustration arising from the same heated argument, then don’t go doubling up, by showing and telling your readers. They’ll get it. Keeping things simple never hurts, and adding qualifiers to prove our point can at times have the opposite effect to what we’re after.
Now in saying this, there will also be times when it’s perfectly acceptable to use qualifiers, but never forget, it’s strong dialogue and narrative which should carry a scene. Judge it for yourself, but if you’ve drawn a scene well, then your reader will be able to ascertain all that is needed without any overuse of words which state the obvious. Again, think sparingly–that’s all.
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