Do you edit as you write? While NaNoWriMo is a time for “write now, edit later,” keep in mind that what you write is as important as that daily word count. This Writing Tip comes from WIFYR assistant Lisa Sledge.
The WIFYR assistants recently met to plan the 2015 conference. Can I just say how excited I am to go back to a conference that has done so much to save my writing and build my confidence? I wish it was June already.
Cheri Pray Earl gave a great presentation on how to improve our writing. One thing that really stuck with me is the importance of concrete rather than abstract writing.
William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) had a bit of an obsession with concreteness. And I love him for it. Here is my favorite of his poems:
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Beautiful, isn’t it? For me it conjures up all sorts of feelings, emotions, and even memories. A note on the kitchen table. Plums, icebox, cold, sweet, and that little bit of guilt that makes pleasure run deeper.
There is a chance, I realized, that not everyone knows or understands what “concrete writing” means.
I’m an English teacher. This is what I love. Indulge me for a moment.
Concrete writing relies on nouns, verbs, and vivid adjectives. It is a way of helping the reader look at ordinary things in a new light, makes the mundane stand out, and breathes life into what is easy to overlook.
Abstract writing is the cheap and lazy way to try and conjure up emotions in our readers. And guess what? It often doesn’t work. For example, I might write, “I ate the last plum and it tasted so good.” The phrase “so good” is empty. What does it represent? What emotions or feelings does it create? Nothing. And the “last plum”? Who cares if it was the last one. It doesn’t mean anything to me.
Inject power into your writing. Avoid abstract words such as “amazing”, “awesome”, “terrible”, “bad” or other vague constructions. Look through the world of your novel and highlight small objects and details in a way that will carry specific meaning and emotions to your readers.