|Photo by Andrea De Stefani, |
via Free Images
1. If Your Novel has More Characters than the Star Wars Prequels, You Might Need Revision. Whenever the author takes the time to name a character, that is a subtle clue to the reader that this is a major character and we need to pay attention. Think Hollywood and movies (good ones, NOT the SW prequels). If the credits roll and there is a named character in the credits, then we can rest assured this character had a speaking part….Only name them if you plan on getting us attached.
2. If Your Novel Dumps the Reader Right into Major Action, You Might Need Revision.
Lola leaned out over the yawning chasm below, and yelled to Fabio. She needed her twist-ties and lucky purple rabbit’s foot if she ever was going to defuse the bomb in time. Sweat ran into her eyes as she reached out for Malfio’s hand. They only had minutes before Juliette would be back and then it would all be over for Katy, Skipper and Mitzi.
Okay, I just smashed two into one. Your first question might be, Who the hell are these people? And likely your second question is Why do I care?
(Heidi's Note: Now I've been taught it's good to start with action, but I think the rule "moderation in all things" might apply here.)
3. Painful and Alien Movement of Body Parts? Time for Revision
Her eyes flew to the other end of the restaurant.
His head followed her across the room.
All I have to say is… “Ouch.” Make sure your character keeps all body parts attached. Her gaze can follow a person and so can her stare, but if her eyes follow…the carpet gets them fuzzy with dust bunnies and then they don’t slide back in her sockets as easily.
4. Too much Physiology? Time for Revision
Her heart pounded. Her heart hammered. Her pulse beat in her head. Her breath came in choking sobs.
After a page of this? I need a nap. After two pages? I need a drink. We can only take so much heart pounding, thrumming, hammering before we just get worn out. That and I read a lot of entries where the character has her heart hammering so much, I am waiting for her to slip into cardiac arrest at any moment. Ease up on the physiology. Less is often more. Get a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus.
5. Too Many Evil Adverbs? REVISE!
Most of the time, adverbs are a no-no. Find a stronger verb instead of dressing up a weaker choice.
She stood quickly from her chair.
Stronger: She bolted from her chair.
Also be careful of redundant adverbs. She whispered quietly… Um, duh. The verb whisper already tells me the volume level. She can, however, whisper conspiratorially. Why? Because the adverb isn’t denoting something inherent in the verb. To whisper, by definition is to be quiet BUT not necessarily to conspire. The adverb conspiratorially indicates a certain quality to the whisper.
Read the rest of this excellent post at Kristen Lamb’s Blog. You can also connect with Kristen Lamb on Facebook, on Twitter @KristenLambTX and #MYWANA
|A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, will be published in May 2014. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.|