Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Six Writing Tips from Author Chris Pash

1. "Then" and "suddenly." Who needs them? Action happens or it doesn’t. (And then) an action (suddenly) creates a reaction and (then) leads to another (sudden) action.

2."Said" or "says" are preferred. For a trained reader, these words fade into the background and are hardly noticed. This enhances flow of the story. I once saw "he exhorted" used by a well known, and best selling, author. An assault on my eyes, I chucked the book down the stairs and later tried to palm it off on someone else but they knew better. The book sat on the stairs for some time before resurrection as a doorstop. The dog refused to chew it.

3. "Shouted" can look natural. "Yelled" may be accepted, grudgingly. Once or twice per 50,000 words or so would be an acceptable ratio.

4. All others such as "recalled" or "voiced" will be eliminated.

5. "At about" will not appear. It is either "at" or "about." It cannot be both. One is precise, the other an approximation. Together they conflict.

6. Dashes – shall be used sparingly – overuse – hurts – and causes eye stumbles – annoying. Journalists like them because they add a jerky, breathless drama. Reporters need them to make a story appear more important than the facts allow.

Please visit Mr. Pash's blog on his upcoming narrative nonfiction, THE LAST WHALE:

Click here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good advice. Thanks!