On the second wednesday of each month I pick an author whose work I've read to review. I don't review their books on my blog, but you can find my reviews on amazon.com, and a few on goodreads.com as well.
This month though, as I was trying to decide between two authors I've read in the last few months, I realized My reviews are an excuse. They're practice for me to learn what writers do both right and wrong and then I try to incorporate the lessons in to my writing. I just had my manuscript "Burning Bridger", my newest novel read and critiqued for the 100 th time, only to discover....I'm still doing it wrong.
So while I edit, revise, and polish my own work, here is what I've learned-
# 1. 'Purple Prose'- The term purple prose refers to flowery language, verbosity, the over indulgence of vocabulary or any language within the work that detracts from the body of the work. It shows up more blatantly in essay, or academic writing, but without the proper balance of the use of the five senses in a work of fiction, it draws the reader out of the story.
#2. In writing, one plus one equals one half not two. If you are describing a physical sensation to connect your reader with the character in your story, choose one powerful descriptor. Two or three will detract from the actual story and annoy the reader. "She swallowed a pillow sized lump in her throat while trying to calm her racing heart. Her stalker kept closing in."
as compared to "She tried to swallow the pillow sized lump in her throat. The black eyes of her stalker closed in."
#3. Tagging Dialogue- For blind readers, in can be difficult to follow the speakers in a conversation without tags. Visually, though, you can often see the speaker without tags because of the format of the conversation. When two people are present the dialogue will offset in paragraph form to show who is speaking. "What do you mean, he's dead?"
"Its self explanatory."
"Dead-dead, or just like comatose dead?"
If this were a conversation between three people, one line of the dialogue would need a tag of some kind to indicate the speaker, otherwise you can follow the conversation. "What do you mean he's dead?" Kayla's hands shook with the doctor's announcement.
"Its self explanatory," Collin mumbled.
"Dead-dead, or just comatose-dead?"
"What's the difference Dante," Kayla snapped
#4. As/While- Using the joiners as and while connects two descriptors or sentences together. One of these descriptors should be either elininated or saved for a later partof the story. If it is two ideas being connected, break them apart into two sentences. Joining them together once again draws the reader out of the action, or makes for run-on sentences.
"The fingers of the charcoal sunset dipped into the tide waters as the waves lapped onto the black shore."
"Drops of amber light danced across the black shore. Fingers of the crimson sunset dipping beneath the water."
#5. Narrative- The internal thoughts and musings of the Point of View character help the reader to connect with the story and care about the people. Spending too much time in the character's mind is like spending too much time obsessing over your own doubts and worries. it doesn't take you into fun fantasy world's where love is real and the good guys win. It won't take you into the bar fight, or make you feel as if your rubber boat is sinking. It will just drive you insane.
Narrative can create emotional connection, but scenery paints a picture. Think of a movie in which all you hear is the lead actor or actress telling you what they were thinking when they had an experience. It might work for the blind...but even those of us who can't see need more than heavy narrative.
I will spend a lot more time and energy working through my own writing issues.. Mastering any craft is a life long pursuit. To review my own failings and mistakes is just as, if not more helpful than reviewing any one else's . I hope it gave you a few things to think about as well.