Making Every Word Count

As a confessing word-lover, I’m the first to admit, I struggle with over-abundance. If a two sentence description is good, than an entire page is better, right? And why not dazzle my reader with my literary genius, spinning word-picture after word-picture?

If I wrote literary fiction or poetry, perhaps. But I don’t. I write fiction, filled with action and emotion. My ultimate goal is not to impress my reader but instead to plunge them so deeply into the story, they forget they’re reading. They’ve become Alice, or Trent, or Teddy–whatever character I’m presenting. Which means, every word must be selected  carefully for optimal effect and anything that jars my reader must be sliced mercilessly from the page.

When writing intense scenes, short, even choppy sentences propel the reader forward. I eliminate reader-jarring tags like, “she thought,” “she felt,” and “she decided,” because they’re not necessary. If I present the sensory details effectively, my reader feels what my character feels and doesn’t need to be told how to feel.

Wanna write like the best? Then study great writing.  Check out his four…maybe five…rules for great writing used by Ernest Hemingway here. (Gotta give a shout out to Michael Ehret, editor-in-chief for the Christian Writers Guild, because I nabbed this link off his fb page.)

And don’t forget, I’m giving away a three-page critique to help all my writer friends prepare for the many upcoming conferneces. In those three pages, I’ll teach you how to show, not tell, deepen your POV, craft your sentences to match your desired tension, and more! To be entered in the drawing, fb share this link, tweet the link, or leave a comment.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you find the balance between stale writing and sensory-overload?


About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.

Posted on August 12, 2011, in writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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