I was reading a blog written by Kristen Lamb – Six Easy Tips for Self-Editing Your Fiction. She was referring to the brutal truth about adverbs, metaphors and similes that are so overly vivid and overused that they yank the reader’s attention away from the movement of the story.
Metaphors like ‘rock coffee table’ make you pause to figure out what the writer means – something flat on legs and made of stone? No, apparently he/she meant a large flat rock. In that case, just say what you mean and don’t try to be too cute. “She reached out her arm to open the door”. Surely the extra words aren’t useful unless she used her prehensile toes. The other examples made me laugh. “Her eyes followed him across the room.” ET could have done that. Or perhaps Wall-E, but I’m sure her orbs did not leave her head and traipse behind the object of her affection.
When I read drafts with lots of descriptive filler, it reminds me of 19th century potboilers where maidens had “heaving bosoms” and the men were all “dashing” or “courtly”.
Think about glitter. It’s over-used by exotic dancers and five year old girls. Not a good approach to serious writing.
Speaking of which, I had another conference call with my mentor Sam Hiyate. At his urging, I’ve rewritten my novel outline (26 pages with four columns of details) to include more peril, ramp up the tension and have her show more initiative in solving the challenges that confront her. Which I did. My villains are more villainous and the complexities more complex. He was really excited about the first 30 pages that I had rewritten. Excited for real. Instead of a meandering start with lots of back story I jump start in media res with Kenora interview with Butch, one of the bad guys who will stalk her throughout the book.
He said I’m focused, that I’ve listened to his suggestions about what makes a novel marketable. Boy, did that make me feel good after sweating for a couple of weeks on the outline then the first seven chapters/scenes. Then again, why wouldn’t I listen? This man knows his stuff – he’s had New York Times bestsellers, Globe and Mail bestsellers, movie deals, award winners.
Good thing I work best under the pressure of deadlines.