Thursday, November 7, 2013


I recently gave a presentation on writing Deep Point Of View. I stressed the importance of using strong verbs and eliminating distancing adverbs and adjectives. Example: She walked quietly…she slipped into the room. Or: He thought he should call her…he called her. She felt sick…nausea bubbled in the back of her throat. She was going to the mall…she drove to the mall.

Simple hints, but they make a world of difference in your manuscript.

I finished a novel written by a well-established romantic suspense writer. She used the word was thirteen times on one page. To add to the distraction, she started sentences with: There was, instead of addressing the action and in one long compound sentence, used the word was three times. It’s difficult to explain to new writers how this passes editors. I tell them that if you want your manuscript to emerge from the slush pile, follow the rules and tighten your writing. Know the rules before you attempt to break them.

Another distraction is the over use of your character’s names. If you have two characters in one scene, introduce them once and allow the dialogue to flow without constantly adding the tags, “John said, Mary said, John said, Mary said.”


“Hand me the peanuts,” John said.

“Here,” Mary said.

“Thanks,” John said.”

Okay, so that’s terrible dialogue. How about writing…

“Hand me the peanuts,” John said.

Mary pushed the bowl across the table. “They’re salty. Do you want a glass of water?”

“Nah, I’m good.”

The reader immediately knows who’s speaking without all of the tags.

Another example:

John headed out the front door. Late for work again, John rushed to the bus stop.

The reader already knows John is the POV character in the scene. Don’t overuse his name. You can spice up the scene by showing emotion. Did the character sweat? Did he trip down the steps? Did he arrive in time to see the bus pull away?  Add these emotions if it pushes the scene forward.

No matter what your write, put yourself in your main character’s head. Feel what he/she feels. ( but don’t say, “he felt.” Show that emotion.)

Keep writing. Joyce Brennan



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