July 7, 2020
by Samantha Hoffman
I found this advice through my writer friend and author-extraordinaire, Karen Karbo, and it contains the best writing advice I think I've ever read. Writing advice, of course, is subjective, depending on what you're looking for at the time; maybe right now you need help with dialogue, or tomorrow it'll be description or place; maybe you're in need of editing advice or a good agent.
For me, no matter what stage I'm at in my WIP, I'm always looking for advice on how to make my writing better because, truthfully, I care less if I get published (not that I don't care about that!) than if someone says, "She's a beautiful writer." As in, "She's such a beautiful writer, why isn't she getting published?"
CHUCK PALAHNIUK says, "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."
If you're not sure how that helps your writing, read the article. He gives elegant, concrete examples of how to accomplish what he's espousing. It's eye-opening. This advice changed my writing forever (I hope).
Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs
by Chuck Palahniuk
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…”
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.
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.
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