I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript. Yep, you can join in the fun, too. Let’s take a looksee at topic #11
11: Avoid sounding ‘writerly’. Better to dirty up your prose. When you sound like a writer, your voice has crept in and authorial intrusion is always unwelcome. In the best writing, the author is invisible.
My take on this, is to not always be perfect.
I have to admit… I’ve started sentences with “and” and “but”. Correct? No, of course not. So why do it?
Voice is very important, especially in first person. Your character is narrating the entire story. Do YOU think in complete sentences? No, of course not.
We need to write how it is believable.
I recently had an editor try to “correct” this paragraph of dialog:
“You’re pretty, and have nice legs, and beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it, but you can’t see all these great things because you’re always too hung up on wishing you had what everyone else does.”
They wanted me to change it to be grammatically correct. Their suggested edit:
“You’re pretty, have nice legs, beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it…”
The reason I pushed back on this is because the character is very emotional and upset. He is rattling off a list of things popping into his head (and not thinking at all what he is saying) The editor’s suggested change made it sound like he was dictating a letter with no emotion at all.
Luckily, despite not being ‘correct’ – my dialog stayed. It is more believable this way, and conveys ten times the emotion.
Have you ever had to defend your choice of “bad” grammar/style?
- Pleonasms … (wordznerd.wordpress.com)
- The Power of Simple Writing (business2community.com)
- On writing dialog – (srobert941.wordpress.com)
- Why I Love Writing But Still Hate English Class (Part 2) (aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com)
- Why I Don’t Write About Writing (jitterygt.wordpress.com)