Hello WEPers. Thank you for posting such excellent entries for the last challenge. There are many memorable ones - just to remind you...who will forget Lisa fell in love with her husband's picture before she met him? Who will forget Sally's picture-filled story? As always, I loved reading your posts and always look forward to each challenge. I do wish we could convince more to join us, but it seems difficult (most of you excluded) for people to commit to anything permanent these days, or commit to posting more than once.
I have added some more links to my USEFUL LINKS tab in the sidebar. There are some great links to help improve your writing, but I know most of us ignore links, which is why I'm pointing them out. This article is so good I'm reprinting it with some of my own edits, but it is a fine example of the caliber of the links. This one is especially useful to novel/short story writers.
10 CLASSIC WRITING RULES
By ELMORE LEONAR
We, the writers, need to remain invisible when we're writing. This helps us show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound
of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip
Still, you might look them over.
1. Never open a book with weather.
If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you
don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.
There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways
to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you
2. Avoid prologues.
They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that
after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a
novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.
There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's ''Sweet Thursday,'' but it's O.K.
because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all
about. He says: ''I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody
tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks
like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy's thinking from what he
says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a
book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words
maybe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside
so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.''
3. Never use a verb other than ''said'' to carry dialogue.
The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But
"said" is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary
McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with ''she asseverated,'' and had to stop reading to
get the dictionary.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .
. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin.
The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can
the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used
to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the
of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
6. Never use the words ''suddenly'' or ''all hell broke loose.''
This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ''suddenly''
tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with
apostrophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the
flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories ''Close Range.''
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's ''Hills Like White Elephants''
what do the ''American and the girl with him'' look like? ''She had taken off her hat
and put it on the table.'' That's the only reference to a physical description in the
story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not
one adverb in sight.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
Unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write
landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you're good at it, you don't
want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick
paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer
is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at
the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows
what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned
in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It's my
attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious
writing. Words can get in the way of what you want to say. (Figure that out).
If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character --
the one whose view best brings the scene to life -- I'm able to concentrate on the
voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what
they see and what's going on, and I'm nowhere in sight.
What Steinbeck did in ''Sweet Thursday'' was title his chapters as an indication,
though obscure, of what they cover. ''Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts'' is
one, ''Lousy Wednesday'' another. The third chapter is titled ''Hooptedoodle 1''
and the 38th chapter ''Hooptedoodle 2'' as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck
is saying: ''Here's where you'll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing,
and it won't get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.''
''Sweet Thursday'' came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published,
I've never forgotten that prologue.
Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.
I hope you find the above tips helpful.
Don't forget AUGUST'S CHALLENGE - TAKING CHANCES. Hopefully you will help me
publicise the challenge by copying the image into your sidebar and perhaps mentioning
it in a social media post.
As I say on the Current Challenges page: Begin or end your story with these words…
’There was once a chance I didn’t take.’ If posting photos, let the photos tell