Enlivening the Page
|D Sharon Pruitt | flickr.com|
I once had an elementary school teacher who crossed out the word "very" whenever I used it in my writing. That is a word that gives me pause even today. It is now
One of the tricks I use in reviewing my writing to make it more active is to look for the words that end in -ly.
Here's an example:
Our protagonist is John and he is notorious for jingling his change in his pocket. It is one of his ticks that will arise when he's nervous.
He quietly walked down the street.
But what does that tell me about him? Not as much as it could. Walked is a bland verb. If we can snazz it up a little to really show our audience how he is moving and add the jingling...or not, this sentence can expand and bring the reader in.
Pull out the thesaurus. Really.
One of my favorite books is the Rodale's The Synonym Finder. This blog post on CoolTools gives a comparison of how many synonyms can be found using each thesaurus resource. Needless to say, Rodale's is the winner.
When we write, often we are trying to just get the flow and the words. But when you revise, take the time to find the perfect word that conveys the image you are looking for.
So, let's get back to John and his walking. Aren't there specific words that can tell us so much more about John? We all walk. John is your specific character and he has specific actions.
Rodale's has suggestions that are packed with all sorts of meanings that add dimension along with your character. Instead of walking will John
- hike or
What are your thoughts on revising to removing -ly words and finding synonyms to make your sentences crackle?
Elizabeth King Humphrey, a writer and editor, lives in Wilmington, N.C. She is always looking for good books on writing.