Tag Archive - Robin Patchen

Don’t Get Sent to the Department of Redundancy

Today editor Robin Patchen tackles Fatal Flaw #3: Weak Construction. We’ve been examining this flaw all month, looking at the various ways writers stumble into the mire of weak construction through poor word choice and flawed sentence structure, as well as vagueness and bland or clunky dialog. Be sure to read through all these posts to learn how to catch this fatal flaw in your fiction writing!

“We get it.” I type those words often in my clients’ manuscripts. And when I see a lot of redundancy in their books, I’ve been known to simply type “DRD” in the comment box. Department of Redundancy Department—a great Monty Python line.

So many writers fall into this trap. They think of a few different ways to say the same thing, and they really like every one of their choices. They must, because they leave them all in. The quickest way to slow down your manuscript is to be redundant. It’s . . . how shall I say this? Boring. Continue Reading…

Getting Right into the Middle of Things

This month our editors are tackling Fatal Flaw #2: Nothin’ Happenin’. Editor Robin Patchen encourages writers to think about a scene’s purpose in order to determine what information is important to share and where to place that in an active scene playing out in real time. (If you’ve missed the other three posts on this fatal flaw, read them here, here, and here.)

We have to be clear. It’s very important that our readers understand exactly what’s going on at every moment in our story. So we must tell the reader everything that ever happened that led to this scene, whatever it is. That’s the only way the reader will get it, right?

Not exactly.

It’s not that your reader doesn’t care about that stuff. Oh, wait. Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Unless it affects the story, your reader doesn’t care. Not one bit.

Your scenes should begin when the action begins. That’s a tough thing to determine, though. I’m acting right now by typing these words on the page, and I promise you, there isn’t a soul alive who wants a play-by-play of my typos. So how do you know when the scene should begin? Continue Reading…

The Perils of Purple Prose

We’re wrapping up our look at Fatal Flaw # 1: Overwriting. Fiction writers often overwrite, and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their work. Our savvy editors have covered repetition and redundancy, how much detail to include and leave out, and just plain clunky writing. This week editor Robin Patchen dives into purple prose to show you what that is and how to avoid it in your writing.

What do you want people to experience when they read your novel? Do you want them to marvel at your fabulous writing skills? Are you hoping they’ll be impressed by your outstanding grasp of grammar? Perhaps you want to dazzle them with your exceptional vocabulary?

Or do you want them to experience a story?

Truth is, often times, you can either impress people with your prose or you can tell them a story, but you can’t do both. So many of my editing clients’ manuscripts are riddled with prose so filled with flowery language that the meaning is lost. I find myself offering the same advice over and over, my take on Nike’s slogan: Just say it. Continue Reading…

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