Four Simple Things To Stop Doing For Stronger Prose
Eliminating Passive Verbs, Tightening Prose, Reducing Modifiers and Stripping your Filters for stronger, more powerful writing.
Day one: Why this class?
When I first started writing and submitting genre fiction, there was a gap between how I’d learned to write in school, and what works well in commercial fiction. Because ninety percent of rejections are form letters, I wasted a lot of time wondering why my writing wasn’t hitting the mark. I knew it needed help, but had no real direction for how to improve it. Unfortunately, this is a pretty universal experience.
(One of the things that awes me about the furry writing community is that the editors often take time to provide feedback, and in many cases, work with the author to improve their submission. This is almost never the case outside the genre, probably due to submission numbers and time factors, and I have to stress how lucky and amazing it is.)
So if no one will tell the fledgling author why their work is being rejected, how the heck are they supposed to fix the issue? In my case, I got lucky. I shot my manuscript at an editor who happened to take a shine to the concept. She took a little extra time and pointed out the specific issues, and then offered to reconsider the book if I’d fix them and resubmit.
Because the simple changes made such a huge impact on the quality of my prose, I feel incredibly indebted to her. She also eventually bought the book. So, doubly so.
The four things we’re going to address over the next few weeks are both prevalent in the new writer’s fiction and relatively simple to fix. In return, the effect of making these changes on your prose is huge. Learning to spot and fix these four things, and eventually just stop doing them to begin with, has the power to take your writing up a significant notch.
I selected these four specifically because the return on investment is so high.
Not everyone will agree that these points are flaws or course. That is also fine. I picked them because in the hands of a beginning writer they often make the difference between an acceptance and a rejection. Like all rules, they can be broken, but in my opinion, that’s far safer to do after you’ve learned them, and learned why they are there in the first place.
For each topic, we will take a day to discuss the issue. Then we will have a day where we can put the ideas in practice with provided exercises and on your own sample pages. On day three we will have time to finish, share, and ask questions.
Today, we can introduce ourselves and our work, and please feel free to ask questions as we go as well. I look forward to it!
Days 2-4: Passive Verbs
Days 5-7: Overstating
Days 8-10: Excessive Modifiers
Days: 11-13: Filters
Day 14: Wrap-up