Sunday, 14 September 2014

Throw Out Everything You’ve Learned At School

I have been working my way through another revision of my first novel, Raven’s Path.  It has sat on the shelf for over a year, so I am able to view it through a clearer lens now.  I have learned so much in the last few years and I cringe at many of my obvious amateurish passages.  I still like everything about the story but it needs a sweep for clutter.

In between writing, revising, researching, this blog, and life in general, I have been working my way through self-help books for writers.  My most recent, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, is a straight-forward how to manual that crystalizes the differences between the writer wannabe and the writer on her way to becoming, well, a writer.

Bottom line, throw out everything you learned in your creative writing classes throughout your years in both elementary and high school.  Get rid of those adverbs so proudly promoted by teachers.  Oh, you can throw them in during the creation stage, but hunt them down during revision and editing.  Say what you mean with concise, strong verbs.  As the authors state “...when you self-edit, you can root out these verb-adverb combinations like the weeds they are.”  They provide a simple example (and simple works very well for me J) “Angrily she set the cup…” vs “She slammed the cup…”

That’s a small glimpse of what I need to watch out for as I wander through my 400 plus pages.  I will share more of the simple yet oh-so-obvious pitfalls of the inexperienced writer in the weeks to come.  After a week of enjoying some R & R with my husband and friends, it is time to return to my garden of writing.  I’ll be busy.  It has a lot of weeds.


  1. I'll have to look at the self editing book. Good luck with Raven's Path. I hope you are able to find a home for it eventually.

  2. Thanks Spesh. It really is a compilation of much that we have talked about in Research & Craft; a handy reference and reminder. I'm at a point now where it all makes sense and I can see it (or not) in my writing--beats, mechanics, proportion, etc. Better late than never I suppose.

  3. Who could resist a post with *that* title, Rose! And you're right--throw it all out! ;-)