Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Word Binge

For years, I've written news stories. Tons and tons of features, but also lots of hard news, business news - basically a whole big bunch of cut-and-dried, just-the-facts-ma'am types of pieces. No editorializing. No florid description. Just clear, concise inverted pyramids.

So fiction's opened up a whole new can of words.

And man, did I go nuts with all those new words in the beginning. If there was an adjective, I had to have it. Or better yet, an adverb. Believe me when I say I went happily, dizzily, excitedly, maniacally tripping down the flowery path of my expanded vocabulary. The first draft of my manuscript weighs in, right now, at about 108,000 words. I figure if I put my adverb usage on a major diet during revisions, I can shrink it down to a much more respectable size.

But what about my other fiction writing idiosyncrasies? Because everybody has them; I know it's not just me. I read a great post on literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog about writing good dialogue. It's a pet peeve of his when writers use expository dialogue - meaning they try to cram things into characters' conversations they wouldn't actually say in real life, just to make sure readers have all the background info they need to follow the story. I don't think I've done much of that in my manuscript. Kind of the opposite, really. I didn't have enough dialogue in my earliest versions.

Too much telling, not enough showing.

Who knew fiction writing had as many rules as journalistic writing? Not me. But here's the thing: I'm a play-by-the-rules girl, but when it came to writing that first draft, I let my hair down and let 108,000 words come spilling out of me however they saw fit. Happily, dizzily, excitedly and maniacally. And it was fun.

And I can always go on a diet tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Great post--I did this too when I made the shift into writing. What made it even harder were so many writers 'overwrote' when I started and there's wasn't such a 'kill all modifiers!' stance that there is now.

    First drafts about about the creation and fun, and then yes, revision is all about the diet.

    Do you ever use Autocrit? There's a free version you can use a few times a day that allows you to look for the overused words.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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