The Rookie Writer & Please Don’t Dos

Rookie/newbie writers are still finding their voices.  There’s a major learning curve; we’ve all been there and it’s all good.

I’ve returned to the world of editing—on a part-time, freelance basis.  It’s always been a joy of mine and, hopefully, it will eventually become full-time. (Keeping the faith and holding hope.)  As such, I feel compelled to share a little editing advice though the next couple of posts.  Let’s start with two, hmm, let’s call them missteps.

These two “please don’t dos” seem to occur in blissful abundance (I feel the joy).  Please note, my enthusiastic friends, neither of the following lends itself to strengthening a plot or story if employed with said aforementioned bliss.

#1 – The Exclamation Mark/Point

This punctuation mark is used to demonstrate strong feelings or emotions,  to indicate yelling, or to present emphasis.  It shouldn’t end every second sentence.  Nor should it be used willy-nilly.

For example:

  “Not Jeremy again!” Marvin commented, strolling around the heap of debris on the kitchen floor.

  “He’s so clumsy!” Greta added, annoyed. “Some people just don’t do anything and get away with it!  It’s so not fair!”

  “It’s not fair, you are so right!” Marvin agreed. “It shouldn’t be us cleaning up his mess!”

Try something like this:

  “Not Jeremy again?” Marvin asked with a sour smile, avoiding the debris on the kitchen floor as he strolled to the cupboard.

  “He’s so clumsy,” Greta stated, her expression a cross between annoyance and anger.  “Some people won’t do a solitary thing to help.  And they get away with it.  It’s so unfair!”

  “You’re so right,” he agreed, cross.  “We shouldn’t be cleaning up his mess.”

Use an exclamation mark when appropriate, and preferably in dialogue.  Sure, it can be used in the narrative, be it first-person or third.  But keep it to a minimum.  Allow readers to react to—experience—the action (tension, friction, sentiment).  Don’t push them into it by tossing in countless exclamation marks.

Instead of:

  “We’d better tell them what we saw!” Lee said.

  Terry looked worried. “You tell them!  I don’t like the folks in blue!”

Try something like:

  “We’d better tell them what we saw,” Lee said anxiously, crossing her arms and peering into the darkness.

  Worried, Terry slipped behind the window curtain.  “You tell them.  I don’t like the folks in blue.”

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Augment.  Add appropriate verbs and augment with an adjective or adverb (if appropriate) to create—extract—that emotion you’re striving for.  Insert more description—not so much as to cause readers’ eyes to glaze over, but enough to paint vivid pictures.

#2 – CAPITAL LETTERS

A capital letter is used in various capacities—at the start of a new sentence, proper nouns (name, places, things), titles in the signature of a letter/email, specific regions, films and songs, and so forth.  DO NOT USE CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE THIS: IN A SENTENCE OR DIALOGUE TO CONVEY SHOUTING OR FEELING. WPediting2C1

Instead of:

  John grabbed Lidia’s hand.  “DON’T GO IN THERE!”

Try:

  John grabbed Lidia’s hand and urgently warned her not to enter.

  John grabbed Lidia’s hand and fretfully said, “Don’t go in there.”

A few extra words here and there can add much, and decrease redundancy or overkill.  Allow your story to swim like a dolphin—gracefully and effortlessly.

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK! . . . er . . . Bask in the sun-splashed summer days to come.