Some Thoughts on Reading and Writing

ONE

Flowery words don’t make your writing better. They make it more pretentious, which it turn makes it less urgent for me to read. Like, maybe I’ll get around to it someday if I have time to actually interpret what it is you’re trying to say when you could have said the exact same thing in both fewer and simpler words. The point is to make people feel, not make them work.

TWO

Showing and not telling is terrible advice. What does it actually mean? I have yet to figure it out, but I do know that I’m starting to hate adjectives. Don’t even get me started on adverbs.

THREE

I have no time for abuse, physical or sexual, that masquerades as an essential plot device. This is especially true when it is used in a way to humiliate a female character, often so that a white knight can come and save her. One pet peeve: using past assault or rape as a defining characteristic of a weak protagonist (they are almost always considered weak). Another? An antagonist who exploits a female character’s stereotypical feminine “assets” of compassion and kindness so that they can both justify said abuse. Example: a woman who stays with an evil boyfriend because he pays for her brother’s care. Oh yeah, like in this one.

FOUR

Sometimes I don’t finish books and I am okay with that. I got to the end of this one (number 3) and couldn’t finish the epilogue. True story.

FIVE

There is no one right way to write. Some people are able to mold word vomit into something beautiful. Others need an outline to be even remotely productive. And still others give themselves a strict word count to hit every day. What works for some will not work for others, and vice versa. 

SIX

The thesaurus is your friend, but be aware of point number 1. Don’t use it to choose more turgid words. Use it to choose better words for what you are trying to say.

SEVEN

Haha. See what I did there in number 6? I’m so funny.

EIGHT

A well placed f-bomb can be more powerful than any flowery language. There are so many different ways to use it! As a verb, noun, or adjective. Did I mention I hate adjectives? Other than fucking, of course. It’s the best one.

1 Comment

    1. YES. I love direct authors. Alice Walker and Toni Morrison are two of my favorites*. They don’t have time to candy coat shit for ANYONE. I love that. Of course the abuse of women, and black women in particular, is a pretty constant theme for both of them. It’s completely essential though.

      *Leslie Feinberg too.

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