"Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of 15." --Willa Cather
I feel like I'm learning more and more about writing every day. Even, I have to admit, all the way back to the basics, like in a child's ABC's. This week I learned the letters A and B...
A is for As and Amateur. Rule #37 In The Writer's Book of Wisdom, 101 Rules for Mastering Your Craft, by Steven Taylor Goldsberry, states: "The 'As' Clause is for Amateurs." Goldsberry explains, "When 'as' works as a conjunction, meaning 'happening at the same time,' it tends to weaken the power of the two clauses it conjoins. In other words, when 'as' begins a sentence, it accelerates the reader past the information he just read and hurtles him toward what's to come, all without allowing him to savor the first...(and vice versa)...Either way, the power of the two bits of information deflates. E.g. As the monkey jumped from the ceiling, the rat scampered away.
He suggests we search our manuscripts for the use of the word 'as' then revise those clauses into their own independent sentences. Or use the coordinating conjunction 'and.' The above sentence would then read: The monkey jumped from the ceiling. The rat scampered away.
"Think about it," Goldsberry writes. "How often do you use 'as' clauses in conversation? As we walked into the store, we saw the book. Would you talk like this? It sounds affected. No, you'd say, We walked into the store, and we saw the book."
B is for Bathtub. In The Pocket Muse, Ideas and Inspiration for Writing, author Monica Wood shares a story from Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction, where he cautions against writing the 'bathtub story.' "A bathtub story opens with the protagonist taking a bath (or occupying a similar confined space). During this bath, the protagonist thinks of, ruminates upon, wonders about, and analyzes the past, present, and future, but he never gets out of the bathtub."
What's the memory trick that's supposed to help you remember people's names? Well, to help me remember writing rules, I think I'll hang them on alphabet letters. A is for the amateur use of 'as,' and B is for bathtub, as in get your character out there doing something! If two alphabet letters can do this for me, think what will come with the other 24!
What great writing tip did you come across this week that you want to remember?