Tag Archive - Linda Clare

Writing Mechanics: Avoiding the “I” Trap and Other Irritants

In today’s post editor Linda Clare continues our look at Fatal Flaw #12: Flawed Writing Mechanics. We’ve taken a look at scene structure, and now we’ll cover some of the smaller bits that jam up the gears of writing mechanics.

This week we’re discussing how poor writing mechanics can lead to dull writing. Let’s examine how repetitive pronoun/proper name use and other small mistakes can weaken fiction and what we can do to strengthen our work.

Get Out of the “I” Trap

In the Julia Roberts/Brad Pitt movie The Mexican, Roberts leans out a window, hurling all Pitt’s possessions on him. He protests, “But I . . . I . . . ”

She yells back. “I, I, I, I, I. It’s always about you, Jerry.” She then throws something else onto his head.

When writers overuse pronouns in their fiction, I think of this scene. Every writer faces the same challenge: how to communicate the story without boring readers by repeating pronouns at the beginning of sentences. Continue Reading…

Weasel Words: The Cure for Prepositional Phrase-itis

This week editor Linda Clare continues our look at Fatal Flaw #11 – Pesky Adverbs and Weasel Words. 

This month, our posts are all about the words writers commonly overuse or use improperly.

Let’s look at how prepositions are abused in fiction and how to fix them.

A prepositional phrase is often a directional or time place-keeper. Common prepositions include in, to, of, from, on, over, under, through, above, and below. Writers use them to help readers imagine scenes more completely. Instead of floating in space, a character stands in the room. She lays her keys on the table and opens a letter from a long-lost lover. When she slumps to the floor, readers are grounded.

It’s difficult to write much of anything without using prepositions. Yet writers often overuse them—just in case readers didn’t get the gist of a sentence the first time. In this case, prepositions become weasel words: they’re unnecessary, distracting, and wordy. A case in point might be a paragraph with a POV character moving through it:

Continue Reading…

Tricks to Writing Descriptions in First-Person POV

Today editor Linda Clare continues our look at Fatal Flaw #10: Description Deficiencies and Excesses. Knowing how, when, and in what way to add in description can often be tricky, so take a look at these suggestions Linda offers (if you missed the first post covering this fatal flaw, read it here).

This month we’re examining ways to balance description in fiction. Writers often struggle to find this balance—too much description bogs down pace and tension; too little will muffle the immersive experience readers crave. In a first-person story this is especially true.

Manage  Camera Angles

A first-person point of view brings the camera as close as it gets. We know only what the character knows, and we feel what the character feels. In your own first-person viewpoint, you take in a wide range of objects, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures every moment. If you tried to write realistically to include all this, the reader wouldn’t know what to pay attention to, what was important, and what was simply enriching the scene.

In fiction, it’s important to manage the camera shots the first-person character experiences, including mostly details that point to the story problem—even if the character and the readers don’t realize it yet.

Remember, describing something in detail says to readers, “Remember this! It’s important!” Being less descriptive or leaving out a detail says, “This isn’t vital to the story—move along.” Continue Reading…

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