“Always kill with lean writing,” Catherine Coulter once said. “Sloppy writing is not acceptable. … You don’t want to end up being a murder victim in your own book.”
I so believe that . . . and it's the little things that can make you a better writer.
1. Ban the adjectives - “Treat adverbs like compliments. A few go a long way. Listen to what you are writing and if you would not say it aloud, then don’t write it. The trick is to read it aloud, and your ear will reveal the truth. Remember the golden rule ‘nothing you write is set in stone—change it and change it until it sounds right.
2. What is wrong with “said? Avoid repetition- Cut out those “She encouraged.” “He snapped.” “Damn this God forsaken place, he yelled frantically. Think about it, it’s like writing, “I’m sorry, he apologized.” You don’t need all the excess words. ‘Keep it simple’ applies here. Every time you use a substitute a word for “said,” the reader blinks—and you have pulled her/him out of the scene. Keep in mind you want constant forward motion. Trust your characters – they know what they are thinking and feeling.
3. Erase exclamation marks – When I stared writing I was told you’re allowed three per book - so use them wisely.”
4. Expunge euphemisms - Blue orbs for eyes? Really? Don’t stall your reader into pausing – guessing - what are blue orbs? Back to writing ‘simple.’
5. Stereotypes – Characters should be unique and true to themselves—especially bad guys. Imagine them and make sure they ring ‘real.’ Are the people you know – our everyday family and friends – are they physically stunning knockouts? Then don’t create perfect people in your books – you know anyone perfect? I surely don’t. Make sure you have a very good reason for whatever you do. Consider giving your characters some sort of ‘tag,’ some quirk that will make them real.
6. Use restraint in sex scenes – Again – ‘less is more.’ Be sensual, even make your reader squirm . . . but do it with taste. You don’t have to explain every little detail. The reader will get more out of a scene with tasteful illusions. Do not overwrite. Remember humor can be sexy.
7. Skip introspections – Introspection (self-examination or self-analysis) kills pacing and pacing is key to a good story. If a character can say something aloud instead of think it, then choose to say it aloud.
8. Use care with violence and language – If an intense violent scene doesn’t actually advance the plot of the story, don’t use it. Never write scenes with shock value, it’s gratuitous and you don’t need it.”
9. Never use cliché’s – We’re all sick of them – and they almost make us laugh at this point. ‘Pull an all-nighter. See the writing on the wall. Fit as a fiddle. Moment of truth.’ Ugh, get rid of them or your reader might stop reading.
10. And above all, enjoy writing your story – it will show - Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t push yourself to the point writing is a chore instead of a pleasure. it will not be your best work and it will definitely show.