Make your [message][questions][descriptions][verbs][analyses][symbols][references] WORTH IT!
(Especially if you are sharing with others!)
How to go from half-hearted to full-hearted writing?
One friendly button: the strikethrough key.
When self-editing, it’s more effective than a highlighter. Take your cursor (or a pen) and drive a line right through the words, phrases, and details that do not ADD TO YOUR STORY.
This is not just a love of minimalism; it is a requirement for tight writing.
- Does this [word, sentence, dialogue] illuminate something important for my story [poem, non-fiction, essay]?
- Is this decision fresh, or obvious?
- Is my language precise and compelling?
Cleaning out what isn’t enhancing your story will poke holes through the narrative. These holes are a LENS for you to plant something fresh, fun, dramatic, organic and enlivening (aka what your readers pine for when they open a—your—book!).
Don’t know what to strikethrough?
I’ll give you a hint: strikethrough LOVES clichés! It eats them up
like candy like salted-caramel macaroons.
Let’s look at clichés versus writing that reflects the idea in the cliché (or relates to it), but is absent of cliché.
- There is no time like the present.
“There was no time for kissing but she wanted him to know that in the future there would be. A kiss in so much loneliness was like a hand pulling you up out of the water, scooping you up from a place of drowning and into the reckless abundance of air. A kiss, another kiss.” -Ann Patchett, Bel Canto
- Love is blind.
“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
- Ignorance is bliss.
“People hide their truest nature. I understood that; I even applauded it. What sort of world would it be if people bled all over the sidewalks, if they wept under trees, smacked whomever they despised, kissed strangers, revealed themselves?” -Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen
Right now, we are just building awareness. All you need to do is strikethrough and then ask, what would make this more interesting, or have a deeper impact? I’ll provide a checklist of questions and considerations in an upcoming blog that will help you fill in the holes that the strikethrough created. But for now, stay tuned for pt 2 of your next strikethrough task: vague language!