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He said, she said.

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Hi everyone

I was told to join in the forams so here goes.

Several years ago I attenpted to take a writing course but found it ever so dull, so I tried another tack and joined several Yahoo writing groups. They were a mixed bag of amatures and experts whose only aim was to lead new writers into enjoying their craft. Imagine my surprise to find that the kind of prose modern publishers required was not like the books of the fifties and sixties. Gone were the formal and stilted passages with whole pages of discriptive passagers. One of the first new rules was to get rid of He said, she said and most words endng in ly. At frst my reaction to critiscs pulling my my beloved El Tigre to pieces was 'How dare they'. But then I tried it their way and eventually managed to cut out almost a quarter of the words in the book, which was a good thing to do when working towards pleasing a publisher with a budget to keep. All it took was the turning of sentences around

Take for instance, "I don't think we ought to critisise other people's work," Robert said angrily as he threw the manuscript down on the table. 22 words

Robert threw the manuscript down on the table. "I don't think we ought to critisise other people's work." 18 words

Putting the action in front of the dialogue tells the readeres who is speaking and so makes he said unnessessary.

I get annoyed when I have to read the whole of the dialogue to find out who is speaking.

This way also rids the sentence of the word angrily, as the reader knows from his action that Robert is angry. Why waste words?

The Cup Bearer was originally 900 A4 pages long before I used these rules and othersI learned about.


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Tell me- do these two paragraphs get the job done?


Boudreaux hit the cold rushing water feet first. The river was swollen and out of it banks fed by the rapidly melting snow packs on the rugged mountains. Even through the insulated suit the shock of the cold water seemed to make his heart skip a beat.

He didn?t know whether it was because the river was deep or the current was so strong but he did not hit bottom. There was no swimming in this river. There was merely surviving the relentless current. He tried to go feet-first as the current pushed him downstream but in the dark roiling water, it was hard to tell which way was up. It was a good thing had had a mask and air. No one could have survived the raging river without it.

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Yes, I think Dorothy is on the right track. Getting rid of "the deadly -ly words" is always a good step.

Most writing texts advise that one of the few legitimate reasons to use adverbs is when it's used in a sentence that would be ambiguous without it. For example:

"Oh, you look great."


"Oh, you look great," he said sarcastically.

Big difference. But it's true that it's easy to fall into the trap of using excessive adverbs and adjectives to prop up weak sentences. Avoiding that is a lifelong task for any writer.

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Meraning no offence but the only thing about those two paragraphs is that there are too many 'was' words, and too much involved discription. This is another topic which I wanted to talk about in a following email. I'll have another look at them and post my revision, so WAYCH THIS SPACE, he, he.


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Another good rule is "watch the ING words." This leads to passive voice as in:

"I was passing the car when suddenly a bus swerved on my right..."


"I passed the car when suddenly a bus swerved on my right..."

The latter is stronger sentence. Passive voice is a real tough one to overcome, because it's a bad habit a lot of people (especially me) accidentally lean on.

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Hi everyone

...One of the first new rules was to get rid of He said, she said and most words endng in ly... Why waste words?...


Excellent advice, Dorothy. When I took first creative writing, in intermediate school, it seemed that most of students' stories didn't have one line of dialogue that wasn't preceded or followed by a He said, she said. I listened to the teacher, and I use other ways of showing who is speaking. Doing so also makes it easier for me to make sure that I "show, don't tell" in my stories.

Colin :hehe:

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