Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Going BONKERS for a new book on the writing craft!

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.
by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo


Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Alleyway Splat!! Stay tuned for a more indepth view as I release my official review of Jessica's book later this month.

What's your favorite book on the art of writing?

16 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for having me today, Sheri! :-)

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  2. Jessica, it is easy to begin to feel overwhelmed by both writing and THE RULES, isn't it? Thanks for your inspiring article and the tips. Congrats on your new book! :-)

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  3. So agree with Lexa. All the rules can be overwhelming. Good luck with your book.

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  4. Congratulations on your book, Jessica - great topic, too!

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  5. I just got her book about Showing not Telling. =D

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  6. It sounds like a great book. I tend to like to look at the bigger picture when writing and editing, so it's smart to break it down into the smaller details.

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  7. Replies
    1. They sure are! So proud of her. She's worked so hard.

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  8. Jessica is out and about today! Great to see her so many places. Great good luck with her book!

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  9. Fancy meeting you here! :D Jessica did a fantastic job with the first in the series, I'm sure this one is great, too!

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  10. So not surprised Jess would write such a fantastic book!

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  11. Hey, Sheri, I'm happy I landed on the right blog this time. I always forget which is yours. My one gripe with the "never use an adverb" trope is the lack of enough strong verbs in the English language. People invented adverbs to convey nuance. The number of words used to describe something without using an adverb isn't always worth the extra verbiage. When editing for a client, I always ask myself whether an alternate description could create a better visual or elicit a stronger emotion. Or if it's worth the trouble when a scene is already strong. Otherwise, I keep the adverb. Horrors!

    Congrats on the offers and agent!

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    Replies
    1. That is a great point, Sher! I think the urge (almost nagging need) to use adverbs so frequently is because the writer needs to pack-a-punch to the verb. I know I catch myself doing that.

      So glad you landed here! Always a pleasure to see you.

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