Friday, November 19, 2010

Write Like Your Life Depends Upon It!

Carrie didn't see the man who abducted her. He'd grabbed her from behind, hand clamped over her mouth, restraining her with one arm as he propelled her forward, forcing her into the trunk of his car. Terrified, she had the presence of mind to see if her cell phone was still in her coat pocket. It was--she could call for help!


As the car began to move, she fumbled with the phone in the darkness. Could she make a call? Would he be able to hear her?  She looked at the bars. Her signal was down. But maybe she could send a text message to her roommate....


LISA, I'M IN TROUBLE. SOME GUY GRABBED ME OUTSIDE OUR PLACE. I DIDN'T SEE HIS FACE. I DIDN'T GET A GOOD LOOK AT THE CAR, EITHER, BUT I THINK IT WAS BLACK. OR DARK BLUE. MAYBE DARK BLUE. I THINK THE GUY HAS A MUSTACHE. IT FELT LIKE IT. AND BAD BREATH. SMELLED LIKE GARLIC.  BODY ODOR. REALLY STINKS. REMEMBER THAT CAB DRIVER WE HAD ON OUR VACATION IN NEW YORK? HE SMELLS LIKE THAT, ONLY WORSE....




Now, if you were kidnapped and had your cell phone with you, what would you do? If you knew your abductor couldn't here you, you'd call 911, wouldn't you? Of course. 


But if you couldn't make the call without being heard, then what? Send a text message to someone you knew would see it immediately. That would encompass some 80% of the country's population. We all but have our phones surgically grafted to our hands. And since almost all mobile phones can be traced by emergency personnel, you'd make the message short. After all, your kidnapper could catch you at any time. Carrie, however, tried to give a lot of unnecessary details, wasting precious time. The man could have killed her and disposed of her body in the time it took her to compose that message!


And this is what many new writers do--use too many words. Never, ever take twenty-five words to say what can be said in ten. Your literary life may depend upon it!

6 comments:

  1. Good blog!

    Carrie sounds like Murder Victim #2 in those Scream movies. All she needs is to be a babysitter left on her own all night.

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  2. Great post! I've been accused of repeating myself in my writing. I think I've been caught enough to know my own signs now. I hope. Great pos..Ooops!

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  3. I keep thinking I'm not saying enough in my WIP. I'll probably be surprised once I get to editing.

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  4. Love the analogy of using useless words to get your point across. I have word vomit occasionally and end up tightening things up and cutting things and noticing that I use a particular word a lot.

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