Solutions for Awkward Writing: Part II

currently playing on my iPod: I’ve Got This Friend by The Civil Wars

Today I thought we’d take a look at some awkward little things that tend to crop up in dialogue.

Take a look at this. Get ready for yucky. And let’s pretend you are the writer. (Ha, ha. It’s my blog. I can do what I want.)

“He’s coming, Zane!” I shouted at him and pointed to the sky.

 “Aaahh!” Zane screamed. “Hide behind the shed, Pippa!” Zane motioned toward a shed, hiding just behind a clutch of blueberry bushes.

First, the word shouted is unnecessary as you’ve already used an exclamation point. I’m not a fan of the “Aaahh” either. You do not need to give us actual screaming sounds. You can simply say that they character screamed. Sometimes sounds are good. But here, it’s just not needed.

You must watch for how many times you write your characters’ names. Too much and it sounds off. Too little and it becomes confusing with all the he and she and so forth.  This is where reading aloud lends a big ole hand. Read the sentences and listen. Hear that? Zane, Zane, Zane. You get my point. It’s silly.

You’ve mentioned the word shed, hide, and behind more than once in this brief exchange. Not fun to read. Try substituting the repeated words with fresh ones, metaphors, or locations. You can even cut them altogether.

Let’s see what we’ve accomplished so far.

“He’s coming!” I pointed to the sky.

Zane screamed. “Hide in the shed, Pippa!” He motioned toward a glorified pile of wood behind a clutch of blueberries bushes.

It’s okay, but it could be better. Let’s see what we can do to make it shine.

I looked up. My knees became pudding. “He’s coming!” My hope fled as I fell to the damp ground. 

Zane’s eyes grew frog like as he ran to me. “Hide in the shed, Pippa!” Pulling me up, he pushed me toward a glorified pile of wood behind the blueberry bushes.

Now there are a dozen ways to write this. Everyone has their own opinion. Remember, writing is subjective. This version brings in more action, more movement. Some might prefer more sparse prose. Others, more of the MC’s thoughts. That’s what’s fun about writing. It’s like a new recipe that you can make your own. Add more cinnamon, more hot sauce, a dash of nutmeg. Now get cooking! Oh, wait. I mean, Get writing!



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2 Responses to Solutions for Awkward Writing: Part II

  1. Pete Denton says:

    It’s about getting the right balance and avoiding confusion. I often re-read a passage and change a few he/she back to the character’s name and vice-versa. Reading out loud is a help too.

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