Category Archives: Language

Love in the Work of Writing

I write about love because I tell stories; and it is impossible, I believe, to tell any kind of powerful or valuable or meaningful story without writing about love.  And, too, I have found that it is impossible to write a story without love.  The writer must love her characters, must open her heart to them, give the whole of herself to them, in order for those characters to give themselves back to her.   … Continue reading

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Triage

I’m a great proponent of the triage method of revising:  Take care of the big problems first and gradually work your way down to the details of language.  This is a great policy—in the abstract.  If there’s such a thing as a time-saver, prioritizing is it.  And generally writers DO pay more attention to word choice, sentence structure, rhythm and sound the closer they get to publication. But in reality writers, to varying degrees, can’t … Continue reading

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Language that Shows

When tweaking language during the final stages of revision, strive for clarity first. Language is meant to communicate. Sound, rhythm, pacing, word choice, sentence structure, punctuation, paragraphing—all stylistic choices—should convey the content rather than call attention to themselves. Take Strunk and White’s advice: “The beginner should approach style warily, realizing that it is an expression of self, and should turn resolutely away from all devices that are popularly believed to indicate style—all mannerisms, tricks, adornments. … Continue reading

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