You plan on writing anything, to anyone, ever again.
Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! William Noble August 21, Some years ago the fine short story writer Raymond Carver offered recollections about learning to write from teacher and novelist John Gardner.
Nothing vague or blurred, no smoky-glass prose … He made me see that absolutely everything was important in a short story.
It was of consequence where the commas and periods went. His prose was tight and emphatic, and his phrases never dangled or were superfluous. His craftsmanship honed his work to its essence.
Sentence structure and punctuation were crucial, the proper word was essential, and what was omitted as important as what was inserted. Which brings us to adverbs and adjectives.
Clearly, Carver would cast a suspicious eye on these forms of speech because many times they add little to what is already on the page.
Frequently, they are not important, and in a short story, that means they have no business there. But such cosmetic touch-up often turns out to be redundant or simply uninspiring. He whispered to her lovingly… She zoomed around the oval speedily… He stuttered haltingly… In the last two instances, the verbs themselves provide the acting and the emotion in the sentences; the adverbs merely underscore what the verb has already described.
These are redundancies, and they do little for the prose except to give it an awkward cast. The stone sank quickly… The fire truck bell clanged loudly… How else would a stone sink but quickly? How else would a fire truck bell clang but loudly?
The key is to gauge the relationship of the adverb and the verb it modifies: Are they saying essentially the same thing? If so, there is a redundancy, and the adverb should come out—fast! They also encourage lazy writing.
Far more dramatic would be to write: He whispered words of love … my sweet, dear lover, my angel … he purred his contentment, his joy … No adverb here, and the drama is enhanced. And who could blame these same readers for laying the book aside?
Not with adjectives, though. These suffer the same general malady as adverbs—usually they are too numerous, they clutter up our writing, and they can turn a deft phrase into a ponderous mass.
The house had an empty feeling to it, the air stale with undefined kitchen odors … This is a tight, dramatic description. The dark, dreary house had an empty, suspicious feel to it, the thick air stale and sour with undefined, scary kitchen odors … Do all these adjectives add much at all?
But note the other bits of overwriting: Mark Twain had it right: Decorate that noun some more, your fragile self-confidence hears. Try negative attention, the kind that might push the reader away from the prose. Read the words without adjectives … Now read them with the adjectives inserted.
Is anything more provided by including the adjectives? Why the adjectives, then? Adjectives are a way of lengthening your sentences and providing a more complicated word picture, and this, in turn, will intrigue the reader because there will seem to be substance in the prose.
The reader will experience more, and hence, the reader will enjoy it more. But misplaced adjectives can do as much damage as botched-up syntax. If the adjectives are there only to prettify the prose, they should be eliminated.
He slipped into the darkened alley … Not all alleys are dark, so now you know this one will be. But suppose this had read: Reach for adjectives that give more information than can already be found in the noun—when, in fact, an adjective should be used at all.
Frankly, most adjectives are not needed. What benefits they offer are usually much less than the havoc they create.William Zinsser, fabled teacher of writing, dies at William Zinsser, the former Yale writing teacher, master of Branford College and famed author of “On Writing Well,” died on Tuesday in his Manhattan home.
He was 92 years old. “The overwhelming sin was clutter,” Zinsser wrote in a feature for Yale Alumni Magazine in In “How to Write a Memoir” in The American Scholar, author and creative writing professor William Zinsser offers some excellent advice.
“Your first job is to get your story down as you remember itâ€”now,” Zinsser says. February 09, February 09, William Zinsser On Writing Well The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice its clarity and the warmth of its style It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through.
Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher eBook: William Zinsser: tranceformingnlp.com: Kindle Store. tranceformingnlp.com Try Prime Kindle Store Go.
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Shop by. On Writing Well by William Zinsser is a craft book that teaches us how to write clearly and succinctly. Zinsser mentions how important writing is now, we send emails everyday and communicate messages freely.
You don't need permission to write a memoir. It's the best gift you can give yourself as a writer. people write with clutter and. On Writing Well The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (Book): Zinsser, William: On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style.
It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.