Peggy Bechko: Developing Your Craft – of Writing

From Peggy’s BlogSpot, you know, blog:


by Peggy Bechko

We do a lot of wandering in this blog about writing, writers, the craft of writing, websites for writers; pretty much anything writing related. This time around we’re going to get back to some basics and those basics apply to pretty much all writing.

A number of these you may have heard before, but well, you’re going to hear them again.  This is a wake up call – get your head out of the sand and improve your craft. We know you have good ideas. Now’s the time to back up, take a break, look around and get really good at expressing those stories into books, screenplays, whatever  your pleasure.

So, here goes ~

1. Use simple, declarative sentences. Don’t get all fancy and flowery on us. Write tight and write exciting. Grab the reader by the eyeballs and that doesn’t happen when you write the sentence that never ends.

2.  Avoid using the passive voice. Who wants passive in an exciting, engaging and interesting story? So don’t use sentences like “The village had been scorched by the dragon’s fiery breath”, instead, make it, “The dragon scorched the village with his fiery breath.” or “Why was the road crossed by the chicken” becomes “Why did the chicken cross the road.” Really folks, it’s not that hard, read with an eye toward passive voice – look it up on the web if you need more examples or don’t get what I’m telling you here.

3. Again, keep it simple and limit your use of adjectives and adverbs. Yes, give your reader the information he or she needs to want to continue reading, but a continual barrage of adjectives and adverbs. If you have trouble with this concept Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s book, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed may be of assistance.

4.  Go easy on your descriptive narrative.  Yes your readers want the scene set, they want to know about the people, but they don’t want it to go on forever so don’t overwrite.  And that leads us to –

5.  Reread your work – consider each word you’ve written thats three syllables or more long and think about whether it can be replaced by a simpler, crisper word.

6.  Avoid ifs, buts, and can’ts – unless absolutely necessary. I try not to say things like this, but I’ve seen them peppered throughout manuscripts and it’s definitely worth keeping your eye on.

7. Oh, and finally, cut the crap and never rescue your hero. Seriously. He got himself into this, he can darn well get himself out. In fact he better get himself out. I mean where is your imagination? If the main character doesn’t find a way out of whatever hot water you’ve tossed him or her into and you need to extract tweezers and pluck the hero out of the boiling cauldron, what fun is that? Nope, that stalwart has to find a way out. You’re not it – well you are in the sense that you’re writing the story, the book, the screenplay, but you know what I mean.

8.  And finally you might consider stopping the multi-tasking crap when you write and go more with mono-tasking. Turn off the phone, Click off your browser (unless you’re researching and then click off when you’re done). Break your addiction and focus.

Think about it and writers tell me if any of these reminders strike a chord.

Readers, tell me if any of the above ring any bells and have caused you to be unhappy with a book or to give up on it altogether.~ We’re all in this together.