Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Clarity, the writing challenge.
Writing clarity is always a challenge. It's one reason authors have editors. With humility, this writer fills both roles with herculean effort to keep them separate.
This posts harvests true-to-life examples taken from works, if not yet published, then designed to be published. In each example, see if your mind hesitates while it grasps for meaning.
I'll refuse to divulge the names of the authors and their titles. This post is for educational purposes, not shaming. If you chuckle, don't tell me.
Number one: "He walked haltingly into his walker and turned it off and then sunk into his chair by the window."
Response: Can you tell exactly what he did? If he could walk, why the need for a walker? What do we miss? Wheelchairs are motorized, walkers generally not.
Number two: "The master bedroom was larger, with a deck overlooking the beach and had an attached bathroom."
Response: Wouldn't it be great if the beach had an attached bathroom? Those pesky connectors like the word "and" always send the wrong signal.
Number three: "Caroline glanced around then bent low and whispered a warning."
Response: Punctuation can help with clarity. Wouldn't it be a faster read if the sentence said: "Caroline glanced around, bent low, and whispered a warning." Generic words always pose a problem. "Around" is one such example. What if, Caroline glanced left and right before she bent low. If she did go in a circle, the word "twirled" adds more clarity than "around."
Number four: "Though, if I had to shoot through my purse today, I'd be madder than a hornet." She wrinkled her nose and untucked it from the pit of her arm. "It's new."
Response: Plastic surgery, anyone? Yes, it's a difficult day when one has to untuck their nose from their armpit. The purse would be easier.
Number five: "Well what's wrong then?" Jackson asked, then before she had time to answer ran another question to her on its heels. "You haven't been spotted...?"
Response: As with the previous example, body parts can be cumbersome to reference. Why not identify the other speaker with greater specificity than a pronoun? Place a period after asked. Insert "Judy's mouth gaped without a word spoken. 'You haven't been spotted...'"
Undoubtedly there's more examples in the world of writing. I'm returning to my efforts to craft words imbued with clarity so strong no reader misunderstands or has to detour into a foggy mist of vagary. My fingers are crossed for both you and me.
Donan Berg's latest literary effort is Alexa's Gold, a romance mystery with extra thrills. Click this link for to obtain a free sample of Alexa's Gold e-book , multiple e-readers supported. The trade paperback arrives at major retailers April 25, 2017.
Author Berg's 2016 First Place Gold Award romance, One Paper Heart, remains available at www.smashwords.com/books/view/553245, libraries, and major book retailers.