Recently, a scourge that occasionally plagues the writing community is flaring up again. It’s seductive, and infectious, and once it worms its way into a writer’s prose, it lames it, leaving it to lurch around on the page. For awhile, we thought it eradicated. But a few poorly researched articles popped up online, which got picked up by some seriously misguided souls, and together, they’re sowing confusion. Now, an outbreak of epidemic proportions looms.
The scourge’s name? “Said is Dead.”
Never heard of it? Good. Clearly you’re making solid life choices. Continue reading “Tagging Dialogue”
Lately I’ve been trying to wrap up a story—without success—and every time I take another run at it, I think of something I read recently about endings, that good ones “shine a point of light on the writer’s best attempt at truth.”
I love that, because it’s how I envision endings. You direct a shiny, narrow beam of light, or aim a long, sturdy arrow, at a pinpoint of a target. Summations, surprise twists, sudden epiphanies—these are not arrows or beams of light. Their scopes are too wide. Continue reading “On Endings”
Let’s start with an exercise I stole from Alexander Chee, who stole it from Annie Dillard, who stole it from Samuel Johnson.
Take a section of what you’re working on now and circle (or underline) every verb you use.
Next, count the verbs on each page, and write the number in the margin. When you get to the end of the piece, average the number. Continue reading “Better Verbs”