Friday, March 7, 2014



In reviewing my own work-in-progress and the work of newer writers, I am reminded of the Muddy Writing we all use in our first drafts. (Well, most of us - there are always exceptions although I have yet to meet one.) 

Words flow off our fingers in the first writing. That's necessary to create and capture our stories. 'Get it down anyway we can' is the mantra. But when we're finished the creative phase, we MUST EDIT. The stats are out there. SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS RE-WRITE!

These five key areas are the most common ways we muddy our stories.

1) telling instead of showing, 

2) passive instead of active structures 
3) too many prepositional phrases 
4) overuse of perception words (felt, saw, heard...) and
5) a proliferation of adverbs - the lazy ly.

Showing our readers the action and letting them interpret what's happening draws them deeper into the story and also respects their interpretive powers. Cleaning up our writing is how we make that happen. Numbers two through five contribute to the telling-not-showing dilemma. Fix them and improve your writing.

There are numerous books on how to edit your work. The above five items appear in most of them. I spent a winter reading books on how-to-write. The thirty-seven from that winter plus others read over decades learning the writing craft, add up to hundreds of books. ALL OF THE ONES I READ MENTIONED THOSE FIVE ITEMS IN THEIR HOW TO WRITE BETTER sections. And today, the internet provides the information. There are no solid excuses to avoid intelligently editing your work.

So folks, whether you are writing short or long, fiction or non-fiction, learn your tools and apply them. 

Question: What writing stumbling block bothers you the most?