Monday, September 20, 2010
On Writing: What Works
You can't be a writer long without hearing the negative press passive prose gets—for good reason. King covered that, but he also brought up the evils of the "ly" adverbs. I'm as guilty as the next writer of inserting too many in my first drafts. It's also one of the things that typically gets edited out in the next draft. But once King pointed it out, I started paying attention to it in the writers I've been reading. Terry Goodkind's writing was heavily smattered with them. It weakened the prose. Julie James's writing was clean of all but the most aptly placed "ly" words. What a difference it makes in pacing and clarity!
Having read On Writing just before starting my current novel, I can already tell it's helping. I find myself noticing passive voice, those pesky "ly" words, and pertinence of the parts I'm including in my story. Overemphasizing backstory was one of the largest chunks of text deleted and time drain in editing for Madison. I don't want to make the same mistake with this novel. Thus, I'm doing my best to not include a single line that doesn't advance the plot or character or both. I'm sure there's a lot I'll change later, but it's a better rough draft than my previous novels.