June 15, 2015
How often have you heard conference speakers, i.e. authors, agents, and editors, say to be a successful, published author, you need to write “tight”?
So in pen laymen’s terms, what in the world does “writing tight” mean? Could it mean you should wear skinny Spandex clothes while you’re in your creative mode? Or how about drinking 10 cups of coffee so that you are wired to the max and look like a scared porcupine?
Let’s take a look at eight qualities that define a piece of literature whether fiction or nonfiction as “tight” or stripped to its cleanest components:
- Use specific nouns: Not: The bird flew over. Rather: The raven flew over the barn.
- Pitch out as many adverbs as you can: Not: He spoke loudly and angrily. Rather: He yelled!
- Be positive in sentence inflection: Not: He didn’t show any respect. Rather: He showed no respect.
- Use active not passive voice with your verbs: Not: Bowser, the dog, was walked by Joe. Rather: Joe walked his dog, Bowser.
- Get rid of sentences that start with “There” or “There were:” Not: There was a lot of snow last month. Rather: Last month’s snow total broke records.
- Show, don’t tell; in other words, describe your action clearly: Not: Billy was really angry. Rather: Billy pounded his fist on the table.
- Watch for redundant phrases: Not: Millie blushed with embarrassment. Rather: Millie’s face turned bright red.
- Use down-to-earth language and throw out eloquent pedantic phrases and euphemisms that no one will know what the heck you’re talking about: Not: Mona’s face showed lines of agony and remorse while streams of tears flooded her poor anguished soul. Rather: Mona cried as though her heart was broken.
So, there you have it. We’ve listed only eight, but very important, tidbits on how to become a best-selling author, and your readers will be begging for more.
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