Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Blood-Red Pencil

I recently found this copy-editing blog, and one post jumped out at me. It's all about empty fillers in your writing. Here's some examples they used:
When Rachel stared at her, Lina blinked and cocked her head, then groaned.

Lara smirked at Betty, then shook her head and grinned.
Now, I asked myself, what's wrong with those? They're descriptive, give me a sense of what the character was doing...what's wrong? How is that filler?

Well, to be honest, it's not entirely filler....but it's still not good writing. There's nothing new there. And you might not realize how tired those adjectives and verbs are until you look at a passage that actually is innovative:
Then, like a dog hearing a sound on some inaudible frequency, he cocked his head. (Katherine V. Forrest, Daughters of an Amber Dawn, 2002)
That's better. It's fine if your character cocks her head to listen--but add something else, make it something more--make it something new.
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