Monday, August 29, 2011

DELETE: thought words

It's amazing how much change is necessary when you get a story out that you haven't worked on for a while. I'm re-reading one of mine and I can't believe how juvenile it sounds. So much telling instead of showing. Yikes! I'm getting rid of all that.

Our readers aren't stupid. We don't need to tell them what the mc is always thinking. If you describe the scene well, they'll get it. I write mostly YA and teens especially don't like to be told what is already obvious. It takes practice folks, and learning what to look for, but is vital to your writing.

For example:  Tina felt so tired, and yet, she had to go on. OR  The muscles in Tina's thighs burned like fire as she stumbled through the dense forest, her breath rasping through her throat. But she hurried on, knowing she'd be buried before nightfall if she didn't.

Which do you like better? Yes, showing may take more time, but it is well worth it and will stimulate your reader's senses rather then letting them grow bored. One thing that will help is to get rid of all "thought" verbs. I learned this little tidbit from author, Chuck Palahnuik.

That means: DELETE these words from your story as much as possible. Thinks, knows, understands, realizes,believes, wants, remembers, imagines, desires, loves, hates, Is and Has. (and a hundred others in all their tenses and forms)

It will force you to show, to create, to mesmerize, and your story will shine with sensory input. Your story will plow forward with power.

And isn't that what we all want?

19 comments:

Krista said...

Excellent! Great post, Melissa. I'll be scanning my ms for these. Thanks!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

OH, nice post!

kbrebes said...

I agree!

Old Kitty said...

Me too - I agree!! :-) Delete these thought words asap!! Take care
x

Theresa Milstein said...

Great to keep in mind. Show the tiredness. Like now, my eyes burn as I type and my head longs to feel the soft comfort of my pillow, but I must blog or my blogging buddies won't have enough comments.

Gail said...

Alright I have a question. The very first line in my WIP is "Xander knew he had to kill her." I haven't had anyone tell me that I need to fix this but according to your list I need too. So what do I do?

Donna K. Weaver said...

I like it, but I assert there are times when some telling in in order. We just need to keep it to a minimum, perhaps as a transition.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Gail, I answered your question on your latest blog post. I wanted to be sure you got it!

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

And Donna, you're right. Rules are made to be broken! =) Sometimes.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Somewhere between writing the first draft of my WIP and editing it for the tenth time, thought words started to REALLY bother me. You're right-- it takes you out of the story so much! As a reader, you become a bystander watching the story happening, instead of experiencing the story yourself. And still, ten revisions later, I still find one here and there.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It is difficult to delete the thought words. I read over parts of the draft I'm working on now, and there are way too many sections where the MC is just thinking to herself about the conflicts in her life. I guess it was my way of sorting out what she was thinking and feeling about what was going on. But in my revisions I've been trying to include more "action" scenes.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Great advice Melissa! I shall do as you say and go through my WIP to see how many times I have used those words...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Great post. Thank you, ma'am.

Stacy Coles said...

Thanks for your post. It's a good reminder for all of us.

Kellie said...

great post!

Canda said...

The second one is so much better. Sometimes my first drafts are full of sentences like the first one, then I try to flesh out the ideas in the second draft.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great tips! Thanks!

Kathi

Tamara said...

Great! Ill have to use this!!
Thankz

Adeeva Afsheen said...


I say many thanks to the father of the website admin I read this, because at this website I know a lot of information information that I did not know before his

Obat Migrain
Obat Pelancar Buang Air Besar
Vitamin Untuk Kekebalan Tubuh
Suplemen Untuk Pertumbuhan Anak
Jamu Penambah Nafsu Makan Anak
Suplemen Herbal Peninggi Badan
Obat Untuk Ibu Setelah Melahirkan
Suplemen Untuk Ibu Hamil
Cara Mencegah Cacat Pada Janin
Obat Benjolan Di Punggung Tradisional