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1

It's good that you're aware of it - repetition in your own writing can be difficult to notice. You can get away with repetition as a character trait, but if they're the narrator it's risky. In the example you've posted, there's too much repetition of 'but' in the first, but the second sounds forced. I agree that you could replace the 'But I didn't' with ...


1

Less repetition is a rule of writing. And like all rules they are made to be broken. "All day, every day, day after day, from dawn till dusk." This rule can be overused Benny johnson said "hey buddy how are you today". Ed peterson cried "My dog died, my wife left me and my house burnt down." Benny gasped "Oh gee thats terrible. How did it happen?" Ed ...


4

I think it's generally a good idea to be on the lookout for words you use too much, and swap in something else. You should look for repetitive sentence structure and repetitive phrasing as well. My only suggestion for your example is for the second iteration, I would drop the word altogether, and just write "I didn't." It's more powerful that way.


1

It's a matter of style, and depends very much on what you're writing, as well as on your personal preference. In something more formal (most non-recreational non-fiction writing, and anything where you're communicating with someone in a formal context), I'd use the longer form, while in less formal writing (most often fiction or recreational non-fiction) ...


1

Advice of that sort should rarely be taken absolutely. If you get advice like that from a reasonable person, they will not say, "Never use ..." but rather "Avoid ..." There are lots of writing techniques that are easy to overuse or mis-use, and so you should be careful about them. But just because something is easy to abuse doesn't mean you should never use ...


1

I don't think there's any huge detriment story-wise (or even grammar-wise), but I would suggest "this" for the first and "that" for the second. However, I wouldn't phrase the first passage that way since it's a bit stilted and odd to read. You could say… "Well, goodbye then," he said as he picked up his hat and ran out the door. …or you could just say… ...


2

I would counter that it is only possible to find your own voice, make your own way if you accept the element of isolation that is essential to the writing process. Yes, you may take a class, join a group, find a wonderful mentor. In the end, it will be you and the world, and how that intersection expresses itself in words that will vault you into the task. ...


2

I can see where he comes from saying that those words should be avoided, but I would not avoid them at all cost. If you were writing a "classic" detective story, where the rugged detective is telling the story you should be allower the use of: As I came back to my office, the door closing with a soft click behind me, I though about the days events. Some ...


18

As I understand him, Palahniuk doesn't actually mean that you must avoid thought verbs, especially not at all cost. Palahniuk does use thought verbs in his own writing. That blog post is a suggestion for a writing exercise, not a rule for how you should write for publication. The important part in that post, to me, is what Palahniuk calls "unpacking". As I ...


3

To see the answer, think in clearer terms. "Show, don't tell" is about evidence vs. inference. This advice matters because readers like to be given evidence and to make inferences themselves. That is worth posting on your wall: GIVE THEM EVIDENCE. LET THEM INFER. You can chase down the evidence by repeatedly asking yourself, "How do you know?" The answers ...


1

Two possible answers from my own past... Consider joining an online writing circle. I was a part of FMWriters for several years and got a ton of great feedback from the small samples and short stories which I shared on the site. If you join them, try to get into a private writing circle in your chosen genre. The open forums are wonderful, providing ...


3

From a strictly grammatical point Lauren's answer is right -- you're talking about something that happened in the past, so "that was" is correct. However, dialogue is often more colloquial and a first-person narrative can be more like dialogue than strict narrative. If you're trying to evoke the feel of the narrator actively telling a story to a room-full ...


2

I would always use "that was," because to my ear, "that's" always implies "that is," and your sentence is in the past tense.


3

Body language and facial expressions work miracles. Using your example, if a person is scrunching their eyebrows, gritting their teeth, and glaring, we can safely assume that they are angry. The other sentence is kind of extraneous, passing into 'tell' territory. Speech patterns are another good way to show emotions, for example a person who is angry may ...


2

This is an interesting question -- kind of the holy grail of "learning to write". The question is : Is it possible to learn to write better on your own? I believe it can be. Learn the Basics From Books Learn the basics from writing books. My all-time, knock-down, marooned-on-a-deserted-island favorite is: Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost. Learn the ...


1

One approach that I use is to write like a scientist. Rather than draw conclusions, scientists are trained to record their observations--for instance, a list of temperatures measured at 1-minute intervals during an experiment, rather than simply writing "Nuclear fusion was achieved!" So in fiction, you might say, "Small droplets of sweat appeared on Sumi's ...


0

This is well within the bounds of individual style. While not everyone might choose to write in this way, it isn't incorrect and may suit your particular "writer's voice."


2

Word choice What words and phrases you can use in your narration is determined by the character of the narrator and the stylistic distance you choose to employ. If you chose a very distanced narrative style, you must use standard language and a neutral, almost formalised style. If you want to write close to the person of your narrator, you can come as ...


1

You're right, it does sound a bit weird. That's only because of the tense of course. If you were writing in the present tense, it would be just fine. While no professional, my suggestion would be to use a different word. In the above example, substitute was and make it a question. Why was I doing this? Was I afraid of losing him? It doesn't quite ...


1

Second one is good. First sounds weird. Third one is begging for another sentence: And with that he put on the climbing shoes, the harness, and attached himself to the rope. At the cliff's edge he rechecked every knot one last time. Everything set, he threw the end of the rope down the cliff, and began his descent. Maybe put in a mutter: And ...


2

The middle one is fine, and the third one is okay. The first feels a little dodgy because you're veering close to a dangling participle, where you have a phrase which doesn't have a clear subject. In the first and third sentences, the context clarifies the subject, but I'd rewrite them so you don't get into the habit of sloppy antecedents: My head ...


2

I prefer your first - A cloud drifted lazily in the sky, heart-shaped, its curves flawlessly outlined as if drawn with a compass. As a personal preference, I'd remove adverbs where unnecessary - A lazy cloud drifted in the sky, heart-shaped, its curves flawless as if drawn with a compass.


0

Exhausted, I continued lying on my back. A cloud drifted lazily in the sky, heart-shaped, its curves flawlessly outlined as if drawn with a compass. I continued lying on my back, exhausted; a heart-shaped cloud, its curves flawless as though drawn with a compass, drifted lazily across my vision. It is obvious clouds are in the sky. I think your version is ...


1

Omitting should be an accessible approach, Steven. "Show, don't tell is a technique often employed in various kinds of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description. If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing ...


2

The first one is correct, because it's a two-word clause modifying cloud. The second one would need some kind of verb in the last sentence, and the modifier is perilously close to dangling regardless. (Separately, isn't a compass a tool for scribing circles? Not sure how you'd create a heart shape that way.)


5

To me, the best exercise yet is Chuck Palahniuk's recommendation to avoid "thought verbs" for a couple of months.


0

Be more detailed. What was the weather like for the scene? What is the nature of the relationship between the characters? What do they look like? Is there anything special about their actions?


1

I think a better way is just to go straight for the metaphor without any helper verb. Here it is with a few other modifications to streamline the prose: The corridor was deeper than I thought, as dim and hazy as the bottom of the sea. Whole reefs of shelves and scrolls kept the light from flooding in. This introduces the sea metaphor at the end of the ...


1

I would avoid the unneccessary enumeration of body parts: It was a bird. It was black with a golden underbelly. I would avoid the enumaration, because you are missing body parts that the reader is left wondering about: what about the bird's back, tail, peak, and legs? Are they black, too, or of a third color? If you say that the bird was "black with a ...


2

The first answer by Matt Ellen is good, but excessively rigid imho. It is just a direct consequence of the grammatical fact that and is a conjunction while with is a preposition. So this implies indeed that whatever follows with is related to what precedes it. However, being related to does not necessarily mean being part of, as in : he saw his aunt with his ...


2

"Wings and a golden underbelly" is better because otherwise it seems like the wings have a golden underbelly. The second example depends on if you want the rooms or the building to have the shelves. With if you want to the rooms to have the shelves, and otherwise. In a list of attributes, such as yours, use and to demark the last attribute of the main ...


3

As long as the intervening text doesn't confuse any reference to the second element, you're okay. I wouldn't put the two items too far apart, but your first example is still perfectly clear.


2

Becoming works fine here, as a metaphor its valid enough and anything longer would bog down the prose. But I agree with Henry that out of context of other similar metaphors in your writing it could imply actual change, and distract the reader. However, I believe that the suggested alternatives are too heavy handed and would only bog down the prose further; ...


2

"becoming" implies an actual change in the form or appearance of the shelves and scrolls. Perhaps you would be better served with... "serving as" or "embodying"


4

The key is in what "as were the others" refers back to. It's not just "the chairs." It's not even that "the chairs were upside-down." It's that "the other chairs" are in a specific state of being that you are matching: upside-down AND on the table. After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned the chair upside down on the table — ...


1

I think CreateSpace is a good candidate for this. The cost per copy is better than photocopying, and it will be nice perfect bound paperbacks. This route will also allow you, if you choose, to make the book available for sale online through Amazon and other outlets, with you getting the net proceeds to donate as you would personal sales. There are no setup ...


2

You don't need a publishing house for that (and anyway your intended distribution is too low for such companies to be interested). You just want to self-publish your work. When I self-published a book (making, ultimately, about 300 copies), I went to a commercial duplication place that could do production and binding. I was producing a manual, so 8.5x11 ...



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