It’s kind of that way with writing too. Getting our stories to sparkle takes careful, dedicated flossing. So, how are you doing in that department? Do you need to call in the flossing police, or will these friendly flossing suggestions suffice?
- Recognize the icky bits. My early drafts are full of extraneous words including unnecessary adjectives and adverbs and an over abundance of helping verbs. I also tend to overuse certain “icky” words. “Indeed”, “very”, “really” and “but” tend to fall into this category. So, as I floss my stories, I keep a close lookout for these “icky bits”. Do you recognize your “icky bits”? Great! Then get flossing!
- Floss every nook and cranny. As my children will attest, proper flossing is tedious and time-consuming (though well worth it.) Thorough editing also takes time. Don’t short change your story’s sparkle by rushing the process. Instead carefully examine and floss each sentence and paragraph until your writing is tight and streamlined.
- Make flossing a habit. When my kids first started flossing with braces, their gums were irritated, but now that it’s a daily habit, it’s much easier. Likewise, flossing your stories can seem painful at first, especially if you are overly enamored by certain turns of phrase. Once it’s a habit, however, you’ll find it is not only easier, but the icky bits are fewer and farther between. Your smile, er, writing will quickly improve!
- Listen to the hygienist (and dentist and orthodontist, too!). Every six months, I take my kids (and their teeth) in for a proper cleaning. Megan, our lovely dental hygienist, has known the kids since they were little and is a good assessor of their dental habits. As she cleans their teeth, she lets them know where they are doing well and where they need improvement. It seems they always need improvement with those pesky back molars. Similarly, my stories are lucky enough to be scrutinized by a trusted, and sometimes brutally, though lovingly, honest set of dental experts, otherwise known as critique partners. So my last bit of “flossy” advice is to find one or two, or small group, of trusted writers who can critique your work and let you know where it needs extra flossing and where it shines!
Posted by Laura Sassi