Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

User avatar
swfdoc1
Pencil 5 (200-299 Posts)
Pencil 5 (200-299 Posts)
Posts: 225
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

Post by swfdoc1 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:31 am

Jan, I hope you don’t mind my jumping in.

The issue you are addressing is called “elegant variation.” It is one of the mysteries of pseudo-experts’ advice as to how this phenomenon came to be considered a good thing. As this (trustworthy, believe it or not) Wikipedia article explains, “elegant variation” was originally a term of derision—and still ought to be.

I taught legal writing for 10 years, and you will note that elegant variation is ESPECIALLY to be avoided in legal writing, among several types of writing. Nonetheless, it is a bane to ALL writing.
Steve
nlf.net
________
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2356
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

Post by glorybee » Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:11 am

Of course I don't mind!

I'd never heard the phrase "elegant variation," but it's a familiar concept. It shows up in the writings of high school students who have discovered the 'thesaurus' feature of their word processor. Only it gets a bit ridiculous with them, because they'll just choose words at random, without awareness of those words' connotation. I've read some pretty bizarre sentences due to that thesaurus button.
Jan Ackerson -- Follow me, friend me, give me a wave!
http://www.superioreditingservice.com
Twitter: @janackerson1
Instagram: janackerson
Facebook: Jan Worgul Ackerson, Superior Editing Service, Jan Ackerson, writer

User avatar
oursilverstrands
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Posts: 818
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:21 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Re: Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

Post by oursilverstrands » Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:25 pm

Jan, this little tip comes from my own experience. Sorry that I went over the count by one word.

Inspiration is impatient. When it comes be ready with paper and pen, or it moves on.

I've been known to jot down a thought I didn't want to forget while driving in traffic. Not
recommended, though.

Lillian
E-Book - Retirement Lane - How to Celebrate Life After 60
https://grammyspen.com
Fortunate 500


I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

rcthebanditqueen
Pencil 1 (1-49 Posts)
Pencil 1 (1-49 Posts)
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:48 pm

Re: Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

Post by rcthebanditqueen » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:47 pm

Ooh, a wonderful thread! One for the bookmarks. Or the "various tidbits written on post-it notes and stuck like a fleet of butterflies all around my house" :mrgreen:
glorybee wrote:• Strike ‘to be’ verbs from sentences to force active verb use that transforms your work. (FaithWriter Sydney Avey)
Ok. I know my grammar, but I'm mentally thrashed from work. I can has example? I tried Google, but didn't get anywhere...
glorybee wrote:• Write, write, write. You can edit later. (FaithWriter Helen Paynter)
In the same vein, Gracelikerain (sorry, I don't know your real name!) posted on a thread of mine and passed on a quote she heard:

"You can always fix bad. You can't fix blank."
glorybee wrote:• Cut out all exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
I don't understand this one. (Thinking fiction writing here.) Does it mean in prose? Or in dialogue as well? That would seem odd. It seems like exclamation points can be one way to show (vs. tell) the speaker's attitude, tone, etc. *waits anxiously for input*

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2356
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--SO MANY WRITING TIPS

Post by glorybee » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:01 pm

Here's a list of "to be" verbs in English: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been

Often, sentences with "to be" verbs can have a greater punch if re-written.

Jan was eating a brownie.
Jan snarfed down a brownie.

The writers were going to a conference.
The writers flew to a conference.

I am walking toward the doctor's office with dread.
I trudge toward the doctor's office.

As for the exclamation points--when I edit, I delete 95% of the ones I encounter. In non-fiction and in narratives, they are almost never necessary; they mark one's writing as overly youthful. In dialogue, they're acceptable, but they should not be over-used--they should be reserved for moments of extreme emotion.

As writers, we should want our words (or our characters' words) to indicate emotion, not our punctuation.
Jan Ackerson -- Follow me, friend me, give me a wave!
http://www.superioreditingservice.com
Twitter: @janackerson1
Instagram: janackerson
Facebook: Jan Worgul Ackerson, Superior Editing Service, Jan Ackerson, writer

Post Reply

Return to “Jan's Writing Basics”