30
Mar
12

A critic

I’ll be Simon Cowell today and hope you’re paying attention.

If I’ve taken the time to press the follow button WordPress has provided me, then I read your posts.  I can actually envision a day where I’ll have hundreds of posts to sift through and will have to develop a criteria for the ones I read and don’t read.  How about the first sentence?  If the first sentence is well written that would probably compel me to read further.   So write those first sentences well.

I love it when you get personal.  Lets me know who you are and what you do.  What life is like in the Philippines, or in Australia.  But not too personal.  I really don’t want to read any crap about that new sex-toy you’ve just bought.  I think there is plenty of porn on the internet without inducing me to read yours.   I don’t care for poetry either, and I’m a published poet so I doubt I’ll read your poems.  I think it’s a dead art anyway.

Is, Are, Was and Were:  I don’t ever want to see these passive verbs.   You may only use these words in a statement of fact.  The sun is shining.  Randy was a young man.  Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith.

You might be asking yourself by now, what’s going on here?

What’s going on is one of you has tricked me into reading your blog and attempted to make me read something that was poorly written and you attempted to pass it off as a taste of your writing.  Well, I had a taste and I spit it out.

The very first sentence caused me to yell, “Seriously?”

Here it is:

Jordan opened the door to his room as quietly as he could, it was three o’clock in the morning after all and he didn’t want to wake Rachel from her sleep.

This sentence is wordy and redundant and there are other issues as well.

First of all, if you are going to write about a couple then you have to be a couple.  The door to his room, should be the door to their room and since they are a couple the bed takes on heightened meaning making it the door to their bedroom.

The part that caused me to ask my computer screen, “Seriously?” was he didn’t want to wake Rachel from her sleep.  Do we really have to wake Rachel for her sleep?   Can’t we just wake Rachel?

So I would rewrite the opening sentence.

Jordan quietly opened the bedroom door because it was three o’clock in the morning and he didn’t want to wake Rachel.

Better, but I still don’t like this sentence because it tells me the time rather than shows me the time.

Jordan quietly opened the bedroom door because he didn’t want to wake Rachel.  He looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand next to their bed.  Oh no, he thought.  Three o’clock.

Showing creates action which engages your readers.  So there you have it, some basic instruction on creative writing.

Remember to ask yourself, Do I really need this word and is it the right word?  Am I using passive verbs, is, are, was and were?  And by all means, be personal.

I’m sorry if I bruised your ego.  I guess I should have had more than decaf for breakfast.

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3 Responses to “A critic”


  1. March 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    That first sentence would be a million times better if the writer just replace the comma with a period. I think some people assume that because Gabriel Garcia-Marquez does page-long sentences and wins awards for it that means they totally should too.

  2. March 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    This is a wonderful post.
    Rachel is a canary.

  3. 3 Randy Roberts
    March 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks Doc.


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