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Perk up your prose

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Tips to take your writing from stagnant to stunning! Slides from a two-part presentation by author/speaker Linda Fulkerson. Part One: Breaking Bad Habits. Part Two: Rev Up Your Writing. To learn more about Linda Fulkerson or to request her to speak at your group, visit her website: http://lindafulkerson.com.

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Perk up your prose

  1. 1. Perk Up Your Prose: Tips to Take Your Writing from Stagnant to Stunning
  2. 2. No Bad Writing! • Example from one of my WIPs: “She screamed at the top of her lungs.” • It’s cliche. • It’s telling. • It’s unemotional (a.k.a. BORING!). • It’s wordy. • It’s not even physically possible. • Besides -- what did her lungs do to
  3. 3. • Polish the PUGS • Resist the Urge to Explain • Trim the Fat • Weed Out Wordiness • Prune Prepositions • Avoid Backing In • Cut Clichés • Patch POV Glitches • Show, Don’t Tell • Ditch the Danglers • Ready, Set, Action! • Eliminate the Great Backstory Dump Part I -- Breaking Bad Habits (The Dirty Dozen)
  4. 4. Polish the PUGS • Punctuation • Usage • Grammar • Spelling
  5. 5. Resist the Urge to Explain • Readers are smart -- give them credit. • Explaining the already explained bogs the story with excess baggage.
  6. 6. Trim the Fat • Prefer the familiar to the far-fetched • Prefer the concrete to the abstract • Prefer the specific to the vague
  7. 7. Weed Out Wordiness • Certain words fly the red flag of wordiness • Vague qualifiers • Unnecessary adverbs • Redundancies
  8. 8. Prune Prepositions • Cut the Dead Weight • Reduce overcrowdedness • Leave the Good Stuff
  9. 9. Avoid Backing In • Begin sentences with subjects and verbs -- and then branch right (old journalism rule). • John Steinbeck was a master at this technique.
  10. 10. Cut Clichés • Clichés are: • Almost always “telling.” • Boring because they’re predictable. • Lazy writing.
  11. 11. Patch POV Glitches • Whose story is it, anyway? • Limit one POV per scene (and to one POV for short stories & essays). • Who would think that?
  12. 12. Show, Don’t Tell • Use dialogue • Use sensory language • Be descriptive • Be specific
  13. 13. Ditch Dangling Modifiers • Dangling modifiers have no object. • Many dangling modifiers result from passive voice.
  14. 14. Ready, Set, Action! • The problem with passiveness . . . • It’s telling. • It’s boring. • It’s not specific. • It’s often lazy writing.
  15. 15. Eliminate the Great Backstory Dump • Place backstory as late in the story as possible. • Make the reader wonder. • Introduce backstory bit by bit.
  16. 16. • Ground the Reader • Do You Hear What I Hear (see, feel, etc.)? • Emotional Impact • Literary Devices • Think Like a Cinematographer • Set the Scene • Storytelling vs. Reporting • Listen to Your Critics • Funny Thing, Research • Dynamic Dialogue • Create Cliffhangers • Brainstorming Tips Part II -- Rev Up Your Writing
  17. 17. Ground the Reader • Who? • What? • When? • Where? • Why? • How?
  18. 18. Do You Hear What I Hear (See, Feel, Taste, Smell)? • Does each scene include sensory details? • Be specific and if possible, attach the sense to an emotional experience.
  19. 19. Emotional Impact • You’re not paid to be nice! • Are You Motivated? • Go for the Goal! • Stacking the Dominoes . . .
  20. 20. Literary Devices • Alliteration • Onomatopoeia • Personification • Simile • But wait -- there’s more!
  21. 21. Think Like a Cinematographer • Pull back the lens and shift your focus. • Aerial View • Establishing Shot • Middle Distance • Close-up
  22. 22. Set the Stage • Is your setting: • particular? • Appropriate? • Consistent? • Believable?
  23. 23. Storytelling vs. Reporting • Reporters convey information; stories create experience. • Reports transfer knowledge -- stories transport the reader.
  24. 24. Listen to Your Critics • No one enjoys criticism -- especially of a creative work. • Use all critiques as a positive learning experience and you will grow as
  25. 25. Funny Thing, Research • Search for the Truth -- because someone will know if you don’t. • Don’t Scream, “I did my research!”
  26. 26. Dynamic Dialogue • Tag, Don’t Tell • Talk Like a Man (or woman, or child . . .) • Adding “Oomph” • Basic format
  27. 27. Internal Cliffhangers • Leave the reader in suspense by ending with a dramatic element before breaks in action. • Dare the reader to stop reading.
  28. 28. Brainstorming Tips • Listen to music. • People watch. • Character correspondence. • Pick a partner. • Get in tune with nature. • Read poetry. • Conduct a word study.

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