Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I made a few corrections to Sunday's post. After pulling out my ancient hardcover copy of Dodie Smith's book, I realized she spelled out 101. I also used an incorrect verb. My bad.

Not certain where today's post was going, I provided myself fodder in my first paragraph.

Ginny Jacques of Zinovy's Journey fame recently posted about the "10 Words You Must Kill." These are not her words. She's sharing them from a workshop she attended. Check out Something About the Writing Journey in "Blogs I Follow" for all 10.

The one that struck me (other than that) was realize. As in, I realized I felt this, or I realized I hadn't noticed that. hehe!

Realize is a perfectly good word expressing a perfectly real concept. On occasion, wandering through my day staring at buttercups and wondering if they taste as good as they look, I realize stuff. Some concept previously unacknowledged impresses on my consciousness and becomes real, i.e. realized. I'd like to think folks with a modicum of self-awareness realize stuff all the time.

I've found a few realizes in Elementals. I wasn't going to let them bother me, no matter what Ginny's workshop teacher said.

I realized I might be wrong.

If the point of tight writing is to put the reader in the immediacy of the action, realize isn't necessary. The reader and the character gain awareness at the same moment, thus making it a feeling or thought to be expressed at once, not a few words later.

Too technical?

The Lioness sent me an article last year about...well, now I can't find it, so I'll have to pull what I remember out of my brain.

TT: Did you know the information stored in your conscious brain is filtered through perceptions, assigned meaning and stored under that meaning? That's why seven people can hear the same sentence and come away with seven different applications. It takes an idiot savant to remember the actual words. Or a trained therapist, but even they can get sloppy and out of practice. Anyhoo...

The article was about filtering. About taking a step back from the moment by using words like felt or realize. When you write those words, you're actually distancing yourself and the reader from the immediacy of the moment and possibly breaking POV.

TT: In my own brain, I realize things when stuff happens, but I have the emotional issues of your average Vulcan, so I distance myself from the moment most of the time.

Ultimately, Ginny's workshop's leader makes a good point. People who aren't Vulcans (that would be most of them) tend to feel first and think later. When they feel, they don't generally pause to think "ooh, I'm angry." They react. I will attempt to express this in my writing.

Which means I'll be finding and removing all those realizes, along with seems, thats and feels. I don't know if it will be enough to drop me below 100K but every word cut counts.

I'm more than half done with 5K word to go. It's a race now.

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