Sunday, August 28, 2005

Stylistic tics

In the best writing, the author disappears. Not everyone would agree with this. The success and critical acclaim of authors like M. John Harrison, China Mieville, and Neil Gaiman would seem to argue otherwise. I appreciate what these authors achieve with their pyrotechnics, and I enjoy them (especially Gaiman) if I'm in the mood, but this is not the kind of writer I want to be. I want my readers to forget I exist. Martin Cruz Smith is my role model, along with a slew of hardboiled novelists who put the story first and themselves last. I'm thinking about James Crumley (The Last Good Kiss), Jim Thompson, Harry Crews (A Feast of Snakes). Yeah, I could go on. Invisible writing requires a vicious internal editor to seek out and eradicate all stylistic tics. You know about tics, right?
They'll suck the blood out of your writing so fast it'll make your head swoon. And then where will you be? As I trudge through this monstrous manuscript, I'm learning to find and destroy my worst tics:
  • Anemic sentences, thanks to dependence on 'was', 'was (verb)ing', and other abuses of the verb to be.
  • Overuse of em dashes, semicolons, and ellipses.
  • Poorly handled speaker attributions. I'm a saidist (my characters will occasionally shout, murmur, or whisper, but they usually just say things, and never ever ever do they aver, proclaim, hiss, or growl their sentences). Nevertheless, my attributions often suck.
Those are my primary tics. Have you found yours yet? D.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Robyn said...

About speaker attributions- (can you tell my tic is dashes and semi-colons?) if you've fleshed out you characters well enough the reader will be able to tell who's speaking. An author in a writing class I attended said that most readers don't even register the word "said." Don't worry about trying to gasp and mutter and exclaim, just write "said" and you'll be fine.

8/28/2005 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Robyn said...

That should be 'your' characters. I hate not having post edit buttons!

8/28/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

My opinion:

BEST: the reader knows who is speaking from context, an appropriate beat, or from the speaker's characteristic style of speach.

NEXT BEST: said

Yes, 'said' is invisible, but if it is overused it soon becomes visible (at least it does to my eye).

And, yes, that comment editing problem is a bitch. Blogger wants us all to look like doofuses.

8/28/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Munger said...

Repeating words. I'll be writing along, thinking everything is perfectly original, and then suddenly I'll notice I used "brightly" three times in the same paragraph. God knows how many of those I miss!

8/28/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Dave. I'd bet we all do that. For me, that's one of the easier things to catch on the re-read.

One of my pet peeves: internal rhymes. It's easy to catch yourself putting perfect rhymes into a sentence (like round/sound) but how about imperfect rhymes like sound/down? Those probably don't bother many readers, but they bug me.

8/28/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I like the word "webwork", I've noticed. Three times in one paragraph is a little too much...

8/29/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger 贝贝 said...

Microsoft Office is so great!
Office 2010 –save your time and save your money.
The invention of Microsoft Office 2010 is a big change of the world.
Office 2007 is so powerful.
Microsoft Office 2007 is my love!
Office 2010 key is for you now!
Office 2010 download is available now!
Microsoft outlook 2010 is convenient!
Outlook 2010 is powerfull.

2/17/2011 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx20160531
louis vuitton outlet
nike trainers sale
coach factory outlet
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin sale
louis vuitton purses
oakley outlet
michael kors outlet
burberry handbags
montblanc pens
kobe 8
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
tiffany and co jewelry
coach factory outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
coach outlet store online clearances
michael kors handbags
air max
nike store
true religion jeans
coach factory outlet online
louis vuitton bags
michael kors outlet clearance
air jordan shoes
copy watches
coach factory outlet
basketball shoes
toms wedges
coach outlet online
burberry outlet online
louis vuitton purses
jordan retro 13
louis vuitton outlet online
abercrombie and fitch
adidas wings
ralph lauren outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
coach factory outlet online

5/31/2016 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger 柯云 said...

2016-07-02keyun
louis vuitton purses
coach outlet canada
coach factory outlet online
rolex watches
jordan 3 powder blue
louis vuitton outlet
adidas yeezy
coach outlet store
louis vuitton outlet
ralph lauren sale
nike uk
longchamp handbags
rolex watches
coach outlet
michael kors outlet online
cheap oakleys
ralph lauren
nfl jerseys
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
beats by dre outlet
louis vuitton bags
louis vuitton purses
adidas running shoes
cheap jordan shoes
michael kors outlet online
hollister clearance
toms wedges
lebron 12
louis vuitton
louis vuitton handbags
jordan retro 13
ray bans
coach outlet clearance
ralph lauren outlet
kobe 8
retro 11
burberry sale

7/01/2016 06:02:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home