Serious Writer is Serious, Part 1: Snatch the Pebble, Grasshopper

I'm just getting started in this whole "serious writer" vein. I'd call it about a year and a half now, in which I have thought of myself as aspiring to be serious about this hobby I have.

So I'll try to keep my topics somewhat relevant to beginning. Sometimes. I do have that sort of mind that makes associations far afield, and sometimes I forget what topic I started with.

Now, where were we? Oh wait, we're not there yet.

I've been thinking about the editing process lately, since my book The Wicked Heroine is in to my editor. "My" editor. Wow. Even saying that makes me think I should feel far more legitimate than I do. But I have to say I've learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of good creative writing over the last year and a half, and I have to say I do feel just a little bit legitimate now, compared to the fluffy writing style I used to have.

Oh, it was horrible. I had compound-complex sentences everywhere, even in places where you'd normally see short, straight ones, like in battle scenes. But no, my stories were full of phrases, semicolons, and subordinate clauses. They bristled with commas. Grammatically correct, every one, but darn hard to read.

My favorite word was "and". And then Aerynn swung... And so it was. And that's what happened. "And then" really bugs me now. Surely you only need one of those, unless you're really waxing poetic, or working in a dramatic moment. "And then the ceiling fell in, revealing seventeen ninjas tumbling down amongst the dusty bricks and burnt-umber roof tiles." That, as its own paragraph, sounds moderately acceptable, aside from the cheesiness of seventeen ninjas (an old what-if holdout from jujitsu class).

It took some time for the concept of differing sentence length to become a tool I felt capable of remembering long enough to use. It was easy to edit my long sentences into short ones; I'd already written them, after all. But writing them short in the first place, that took another level of awareness in my head, which I'd not previously owned. I think I've got the tool now, or at least the awareness. I'm sitting here analyzing my sentence length in this blog, checking if I've shot myself in the foot. It's way better than it used to be, and a good representation of how I write now.

Getting those short, direct sentences in is important, because I write fight scenes. I like fight scenes. The experience of reading about the fight is enhanced, you see, by making the sentence structure match the action. Blurring, direct blows. Sudden reversals. An unlucky fall turned into a desperate roll to safety. You see what I mean, there.

I'm still making the transition in my mind from reader to writer (and there's a whole other topic right there), so I admit, I haven't fully analyzed the way others write their fight scenes. I have certainly enjoyed them, though. I do feel a bit slow on the uptake with the "art imitates fictional life" concept, but now that I get that, all sorts of possibilities open up.

Other nuts and bolts I'm enjoying using, aside from sentence structure, include metaphor, simile, alliteration and assonance. That's [AZ-uh-nence], not ass of Nance.


There once was a sweet ass o' Nance,
It sat quite secure in her pants,
'Til she slipped on the ice,
Split a seam once or twice,
Fell and broke all that sweet assonance.

Yes, I'm afraid you're right; I am prone to the Imp of the Limerick. It's a blessing...and a curse, as Detective Adrian Monk used to say.

Until next time, all.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, it's great to read about what you've learnt through the process of getting published. I swear, you never hear about such things from other published authors. They just seem to be fantastic and published, but you've shown that there's still a lot more work that needs to be done, and it doesn't all stop when your manuscript has been accepted.

    Thanks for the informative and fun posts. =D