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 #24
24: Cut out filtering devices, wherever possible. ‘He felt’, ‘he thought’, ‘he observed’ are all filters. They distance the reader from the character.
Sometimes I consider typing this out and saving it somewhere so I can paste it into manuscripts that I beta read. This is one I see time and time again. This is part of show don’t tell, and it is the hardest for new and some seasoned authors to understand… but it is the difference between a good novel, and a great one.
Which sentence packs more punch?
He felt sad.
Tears streamed down his cheeks.
He saw the train go by.
The wind stung his cheek as the engine throttled along the tracks.
It’s not a hard choice to pick the better sentence, is it?
Search for felt, saw, looked, was, thought… and words like that… and replace them with active sentences. The result will astound you.
- What does an agent want you to fix before you send that manuscript? (shelleykwall.wordpress.com)
- On Revision (authormagazineonline.wordpress.com)
- Timing is Everything: Don’t Let Impatience Hurt Your Chances (subitclub.wordpress.com)
- How Should You Type Your Manuscript? (authorerrielj.wordpress.com)