Sometimes we get so caught up in the pace of a story we race along without considering the meanings of some of the details of the narrative. We write what seems to fit, and if an editor does not catch the little mistakes we probably won't. Most of the time as we are re-reading our own work, we again get caught up in the story and miss those quirky details.
This came to mind recently as I was reading a book from a best-selling author. The pace was terrific, the story tension was high, but darn if some things didn't catch me up short. For example:
"He wouldn't go down without trying." Trying what? It was like the author forgot something here.
"He picked up one of the newspapers on his desk. The stack remained untouched." If he picked up a newspaper, the stack was touched.
"Again, the light flashed, this time bringing only darkness." Is that not contradictory?
"They rolled out of the doors as the barrage of bullets peppered the metal body like hail banging on a tin roof." Nice analogy and use of sound, but I couldn't help but wonder what metal body the bullets were hitting. Earlier in the scene it had been established the characters were in a car, but that reference was so far removed from this sentence it needed to be clarified again.
"Sloan shook the thought." Huh? There is something to be said for terse writing, but this is a bit too terse.
We have to be careful not to use words and phrases that don't really say what we mean because they can really detract from a good story. Ferreting out these quirks is a tedious process at times and probably the least enjoyable part of the writing game, but it sure is an important part.
Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest books are One Small Victory and Play it Again, Sam. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.