Narrative styles vary , and rules evolve and transform like people do. For example, the passive is out of fashion, poor dear, even though when, used properly, it’s a great lens for keeping the focus on the central conflict. Narrative structure is a little more of a touchstone, and the four tweaks listed here may help yours shine.
The suggestions below look like copy editing, but actually clear the way for structural close-up work (for big tweaks, see last week’s blog on Developmental Editing.) As well, these few small searches help acquisitions editors, and paid editors, to be happy in their work as they focus on your strengths in storytelling.
Some leashes that jerk at readers’ necks:
- The word As, at the start of sentences. (As she walked out the door she looked over her shoulder.) The reader’s brain is tugged to a stop dealing with two actions and their repercussions at one time.
- Excessive ing words, at the start of sentences, for similar reasons. (Walking away, Chas whistled into the wind.) I know, we all had sentence-combining lessons as students and got gold stars for doing this. We get to keep the stars, but it’s well to lose a lot of gerunds.
Some styles that look strong but read weak:
- All caps, and almost every single exclamation mark. There are more powerful ways to say almost any of these. (Naturally, like everything in the world, this isn’t true for everyone. Ray Bradbury and Tom Wolfe use exclamation marks beautifully, and Stephen King uses all caps.)
- Sounds spelled out, for it looks a bit early-reader and takes away the reader’s pleasure in imagining the sounds.
I’m glad authors differ in styles, strengths, and emphases, because I like to read new books, and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel
Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries was long listed for the 2018 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, and won the May 2018 Literary Titan Book Award. Thanks for that, lovely to hear.
Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and the Monument Studio Mysteries starring Frankie Ray. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here. Motivates, entertains, organizes, encourages, inspires. Coming soon from Pulp Literature Press: The Writer’s Friend and Confidante, a Thirty-Day Guide to Narrative Structure