Monday, February 10, 2020

Focus on the Message

By Susan Reichert, @swmeditor

      Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers

From Pinterest

Many of us focus on “we must be writing”. While that is true, we would do better to focus on the message we want to write. (The Story.)
We know our writing needs to be interesting, whether fiction or non-fiction. How do we accomplish this? By choosing the right words.
 Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
He also said, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.
One thing I notice is when passive words penetrate our writing we forget to remove them when we are editing. Which means some will wind up in our published story.

Passive words on a page can cause some readers to feel the information on that page is unimportant. Yet if we choose to insert active words and colorful verbs, we automatically energize the page with excitement and an incentive to turn the page. 
Beatrix Potter said, “The shorter and the plainer the better.” One of the reasons Beatrix Potter was successful is you could understand her writing. 
So, writers would do better to choose simple words. Have you read books where the author is using big words, making complex sentences?
It is almost like trying to read an academic book on a subject you are unfamiliar with. It is hard reading to be sure.
Robert Heinlein said, “The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat.”
With that said, perhaps we should check all the phrases we use in our writing. Are they necessary? Could we say the same thing, stronger with one or two words?
As writers we continue to write and hone our skills.



  1. Replies
    1. So glad to see you Here. Glad you like the information. I am so glad there are so many ways writers have to hone their skills.

  2. My first critique group drilled that into me. RUE = Resist the Urge to Explain and GWS= Goes Without Saying were the bywords. I learned to write lean, then go back and add a little more detail during the editing.

  3. That is great advice. I like the idea about writing lean, and then going back and adding detail as is needed in the story.

    Thanks Ane.

  4. Love this! One the first bits of advice I received when I started writing was: Don't use a 3-syllable word when you can use a 1-syllable word.

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