Stop Feeling Your Writing

How often does this happen to you? You yearn for a descriptive phrase, only to muck it up.

I could feel the glop slithering down my hand.

It sounds great, but do you really need the word “feel”? The sentence becomes much more immediate without it.

Glop slithered down my hand.

Now the glop is the subject, not the narrator. Also slithered gets to shine for the awesome verb it is.

Feel needs to excised from writer’s vocabularies. Other culprits are: sense, hear, see, etc. Basically any word that describes the narrator experiencing sensory detail. It’s a wall. It blocks the real sensation from coming though. I get why people use it. It’s a hedge against a worse crime: passive voice.

I heard the a noise in the kitchen.

When “heard” drops out, we’re left with passive voice misery.

There was a noise in the kitchen.

One easy solution is to describe what made the noise. Then it can be the subject.

Spoons clattered to the ground in the kitchen.

Then we get to use a powerful verb like “clatter.” However, sometimes the author doesn’t want to identify the sound immediately. He or she wants to create suspense. You can still avoid passive tense and “heard” if you’re creative enough.

A clattering noise caught my attention. It came from the kitchen.

We can still use clatter. This clues the reader and narrator in on the source of the sound.

As you revise your next chapter or story, look for those false sensory words (feel, sense, hear, saw, noticed) and figure out ways to remove them. Then the reader will experience the sensory detail with no wall to hold it back.

Tim Kane

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About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a young adult fiction writer.
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2 Responses to Stop Feeling Your Writing

  1. Aaargh! MUST we be so conscious of our writing?? Hmm… My inner child is stamping her feet. She likes to let the words flow; after which I don my editor’s beanie and to do the slicing and dicing.

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