Even though I’ve studied writing in in school, at conferences, and in books, there are several tips I’ve only picked up on Twitter. These are from agents, other writers, etc, but through Twitter. I’d like to share some, just in case you have also been denied this knowledge.
1. Adjectives and adverbs are considered deadly.
I’d always thought of these as friends–something to help get my description or expres- sion across–but some agents and editors feel this is the kiss of death. Avoid them like the plague. There’s still a place for them, of course, but they shouldn’t be overused. It’s also possible that some in the writing world have gone too far in the other direction– condemning adverbs and adjectives every time they rear their little heads–but there needs to be a balance. I’m still working on mine, so please don’t point them out to me.
2. Filter words are the enemy.
In all the years I’ve studied writing, I only heard of these recently. What are filter words? They are excess verbs which take the reader through character actions before what is going on at the moment is revealed.
For example: She felt the cold penetrate her coat.
“Felt” is the filter word. You have to go through it to get to the cold penetrating her coat. It’s better to simply state what is happening: The cold penetrated her coat. Another example is: Mindy realized he was the thief. Instead, write: He was the thief!
3. Don’t use “it” so much. I believe most of us know “it” isn’t exactly at the top of our word charts, but we need to strive to eliminate it when it’s not necessary. (Yes, “it” was necessary in that sentence.) This might take some effort, but we can rearrange our phrases in order to avoid that detestable word.
Example: What if he doesn’t make it? could be, What if he doesn’t get there?
4. Don’t wonder, think, or realize. Another revelation for me. I believed that by showing my main character’s thoughts, I was helping the reader to get inside her head and live the story more as it happened. Not so. It’s more acceptable to state the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings by writing, What if he didn’t care? rather than, What if he doesn’t care? she thought. 5. Never express anyone’s feelings except those of the POV character. I’d always known better than to show the thoughts of a character unless the story is told from his/her point of view, but I didn’t realize until recently that I’m not allowed to ex- press how a group or an individual might feel. This is “head-hopping” to some, and I’ve had to make changes in some of my manuscripts.
Like some of the others, this one took a little more practice on my part, but I “think” I’m getting the hang of “it.”