Today's writing notes:
Working on: Revising On Borrowed Wings
Major prose fixes I've been working on:
- Getting rid of the dreaded "was" as much as possible. It's a repetitive and dulling verb, especially in descriptive prose, and the less you use it, the better. (Not to say that you should bend over backwards constructing unnatural-sounding sentences, but if you exercise your creativity, you'll find that you need "was" a lot less than you might think.)
- Changing passive verbs ("-ing") to active verbs ("-ed"). It makes prose stronger, plus it automatically eliminates a lot of instances of the deplorable "was".
- Cutting out a lot of extraneous information. For example, in chapter 6, Nimbus is mentally torn between the excitement of getting to pilot Eloreth, the strangeness of the whole situation, unease about Parshakian that she's trying to squelch, and homesickness and missing her dad, but I've found that multiple paragraphs rehashing these emotions and thoughts interspersed with the action makes the pacing feel odd, and tends to bore me as a reader with character information I already know.
So I'm trying to trim these things down, while leaving sparse reminders where I feel it is appropriate, such as Nimbus wishing her dad was there to see her when she leaves the hangar with Eloreth. Maybe this is just a personal writing preference, but I usually like to let characters' actions and dialogue speak for their mental state, unless they are undergoing a purposely placed bout of introspection. I want the reader to be actively engaged in putting together the pieces of the story and not have to be blatantly told everything, because as a reader I find that boring and effortless.
It's been said that the difference between art and entertainment is that art challenges people and invites them to think, and while I'm not pretentious enough to call my writing art, I do want readers to have a dialogue with the book and as a result come away with new insights about themselves and about life. I don't think that's too much to ask.
(Although, I have gone too far at times and made my prose too abstract and vague, so I kinda have to remember that just because something makes sense in my head doesn't mean other people will connect the dots in the same way. That's what editors are for.)