Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 225 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis


It's surprising the number of phrases we have in common use that are just wrong when writing fiction. We've already looked at one such instance, double verbs, but just as onerous are double nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. When writing stories of any length, you would do well to find another way of saying things. If for no other reason than many of these pairings mean precisely the same thing and sound so cliched.
How about:  He was bound and determined to get there. Hear it all the time, huh?
Why not: He was determined to get there. Same meaning, two less words, and a smoother read with more punch.
Then there's: He gave a full and complete account of the incident.
Why not either full or complete? After all, they carry the same meaning, and I would say complete is the better choice.
Or that one that the comic, George Carlin, loved: It's the new and improved version.
Well, one would hope it wasn't the new and same old damned version, right!
You get the idea. Even though we hear these everyday, reading them in a work of fiction - when they're not being used as dialect to intensify a character - is a bit painful, and makes you wonder about the writer's knowledge of craft. These are just a small selection of the nouns, adjectives, and adverbs that occur commonly in doubled form. You, no doubt, can add quite a few of your own to the list. Do you need to do that? No, just be aware that there is a better way and leave colloquial patterns to your less urbane characters.


Dane F. Baylis
The sad dads sit
Thin gray shadows
On Sunday playground benches.
Watching weekend children
From swing
To slide
To sandbox.
Cyclone laughter
Spinning around
A carousel empire
Weaving sunlight make believe
Into sparrow chatter voices.
Fading to memories
Across empty rooms
Of sad dad lives
The shape
Of  a familiar
Turns a stranger's face.
You wonder
Where intimacy goes
When the playground
Is closed.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis

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