Abbie. 17. England. White cisgender woman. Queer. Liberal. Intersectional feminist. Hardcore geek. Spiritually neutral, but accepting of and thoroughly intrigued by all non-harmful faiths and beliefs. Avid writer and wannabe author. Addicted to a drug called storytelling. Fascinated by (and completely terrified of) the real world and humanity in general. Afflicted with a milder brand of Asperger Syndrome and an unhealthy, vaguely sinister interest in mythology, superstition and the unexplained.
The Winchesters ruined my life, and my favourite method of punishment is to constantly psychoanalyse them.
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger."
Reblogged from madis-hartte
I need to go back to school.
My learning is ofwficially insignificant. My writing minor and all those classes do not make me as qualified as reading this has.
You’re right. I hate you.
The cream of writing advice.
Reblogged from psychdablue
Committing suicide is a crime in the US not so that we can punish the depressed, but because, if it weren’t, it would be illegal for the police to enter a home to save someone they suspected was about to kill themselves.
There has to be reasonable belief that a crime is currently being committed or is about to be committed for the police to enter private property.
This had confused me for a long time and this explanation makes so much sense!!
Reblogged from psychdablue
'then write one' is such a fucking shitty response to the desire for more representation in media
guess what? i write shit that i want to see in media all of the goddamn time
and eight thousand fucking notes on my post is proof i am not alone in this desire
people create these things all of the time
but they are kept quiet, their voices are taken and modified for the status quo
don’t ask us ‘to write one’
ask about what happened after we did and why you’ve never heard of it
Reblogged from crazy-with-a-capital-k
I need to prove a point to my homophobic friend.I’m writing down the urls of everyone who reblogs this in a notebook, and will present it to my friend when it is sufficiently full.
You’re gonna need a bigger book
Reblogged from crazy-with-a-capital-k
Dear internet, this is how you gently and thoughtfully change people’s minds. No shaming, no yelling, just a nice nudge to, “Aha!”
I will aspire to use classy same tone next time I try to educate someone about something!
Further, due credit to Ms. Day: This is how you react to having your conduct/language corrected. Classy as hell.
Reblogged from dingdongyouarewrong
Could you live on $8 or $9 dollars an hour? A computer game made by the Urban Ministries of Durham in North Carolina and an advertising firm called McKinney lets you play out life with a low-wage job as a single mom. The objective is to make it a month, juggling getting a job, rent, a place to live, food and coping with the costs of repairs, things for your child, insurance, etc.. Actually a very hard game to play and full of reminders of the difficulties of life on that kind of salary.
Seriously, if you haven’t played before, play it now. If you have played before, play it again. Especially important during this election season.
just playing this game alone made me really stressed and anxious
ALL THE HATER ANONS, PLAY THIS
This game is amazing. Play it, play it, play it! I shared this with a professor who then had her students play it. So real.