Tag Archive - Weak Construction

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…

Keeping It Real—Avoiding Weak Construction in Dialog  

This month we’ve been tackling Fatal Flaw #3: Weak Construction. Our editors have so far shown many ways our writing can come across as weak, including the use of boring, flat, or vague words and descriptions. Weak sentence structure plagues many manuscripts, but knowing how to spot these flaws, and how to correct them, is not all that hard. Today, editor Christy Distler dives deeper into the topic by examining what constitutes weak construction in dialog.

We’ve been talking about weak writing with the Wednesday posts this month, and today we’re going to look at dialog. Strong dialog is crucial. In fact, according to a literary agent I met at a writers’ conference this last summer, it’s one of the first things an agent evaluates when reading a manuscript.

Why? Because dialog gives a quick yet solid indication of a writer’s abilities. It conveys how much a writer has studied the craft and how well he or she understands the mechanics of speech.

Strong dialog keeps a story interesting by revealing characters’ traits, advancing the plot, and breaking up narrative with action that clearly describes what’s happening. Conversely, weak dialog results in shallow characters with no individuality, a dragging plot, and an ambiguous, unsatisfying story. Even the best plot lines won’t hold a reader’s interest if the writer lacks the ability to create good dialog. Continue Reading…

Building Blocks: Avoiding Weak Sentence Construction

This month our editors are tackling Fatal Flaw #3: Weak Construction. Often fiction sags and wilts due to lackluster word choice, uninteresting or incorrect sentence structure, and use of passive voice and vagueness. Editor Rachel Starr Thomson kicks off this month’s flaw with an introduction to the topic.

Annie Dillard wrote that one who wants to be a writer should like sentences. In reality, I think, most of us write because we have stories to tell, but the love of words (and sentences, and paragraphs) must come into it, or else we would all be making movies instead instead of writing books.

Along the way we learn that not every sentence is created equal: that our words and how we string them together will give life to the stories we tell or drain them dry.

Thankfully, while natural talent and a good ear certainly help, good sentence writing is not some mystical skill that only the most devoted Jedi will ever attain. This month’s topic is weak sentence construction—or more specifically, how to avoid it. Continue Reading…