Friday, 26 October 2012

As good as gone. Nix that as!

There has been some great #writetip advice circling my writey twitter feed lately. Those that have captured my attention have been focused on words to avoid in writing. A fantastic blog post by Aimee Salter on "I Shall Not Write "I Heard..." was one. It was a nudge to get rid of all those nasty telling words that crop up, even when we are avoiding them. I try to squish any sneaky ones in the editing phase, but reminders help. However, there are a few other tricky little words I have not seen mentioned. These words sneak in everywhere, and suck power out of our writing.

If you are familiar with Margie Lawson self editing courses you will know a few. Today's word is as. What's wrong with as you ask? Well it depends how you use it.

When as connotes likeness it is welcome.

Think famous examples.

"Skin as white as snow"

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

See? Sounds pretty, appealing? Causes a mental link to add emphasis, and creates metaphor.  Nothing wrong with that.

But take this example;

"I lunged for the gun as the figure darted towards me"

What is this as doing? It is not indicating likeness... It is indicating a stimulus-response reversal.  

Oh no, kill it now! It is invading your work to eat your power.

Stimulus-response reversal we do it, but why? There is no reason to reverse the order of events, so don't.

"The figure darted towards me. I lunged for the gun."

See, the events are in order. It has more power, more suspense.

What about this example?

"Sally gazed into Sam's eyes as he ran his fingers through her hair."

What is the purpose of this sneaky as?

This as represents simultaneity. I admit I am guilty of this, but... it's unnecessary.  It dilutes intensity. See how much better it is without it.

"Sally gazed into Sam's eyes. He ran his fingers through her hair."

Make your writing compelling writing. Nix those useless as!

Now excuse me, I need to Ctrl F my MS for all "as".

My writer's joke today is inspired by @XchylerPublish who sent me this tweet "Let the words flow, as the voices in your head have foretold them to be!" Ahh if I were anyone but a writer, that would make me seem all-so insane. That is the very theme of my funnies. Why writers look mental...

Why others must think writers are crazy no.4

The silence of a long car trip/train ride is frequently broken by my giggling, then laughing, then clutching my belly and becoming hysterical. No not from the radio, or from a text message, or a funny tweet, but from "the voices" (characters), in my head. Yes, I get strange looks.