It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a book review!
Today: Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
Editing: an essential part of the writing process. From what I can tell, some people love it, and others love to hate it. I personally love editing my own work, taking that raw material and polishing it to a gleaming shine. But like any part of the writing process, editing comes with countless frustrations.
There’s a simple trick I’ve learned through my editing process that I thought I’d share…
It’s been a crazy week for me, in the way I really think that weeks in July should not be. But here are three things (in addition to the image above) that helped get me through it:
1. A list of common mistakes on a novel’s first page (i.e. What Not To Do). Super helpful.
3. When Buzzfeed lists make you cry.
Reading: Against my better judgment, I’m reading this. I’m not a horror fan. But I am a Stephen King fan. I know those sentences don’t make sense together. But he’s a fantastic writer with a lot to teach, and reading him always makes my prose stronger. Plus, his stories suck you in like no other. I’m 50 pages in and terrified, but also excited.
Watching: I really only watch TV while cooking these days, so I needed something I could watch while multitasking. People always say great things about Friday Night Lights, but I’m a couple of episodes in and it’s just not grabbing me. Does it get better? Or is this just going to be one of those things where I don’t understand the hype?
Listening to: Jose Gonzalez. This song is particularly lovely.
Amazing image found on this Tumblr
You know how when you read advice on querying, they suggest comparing your manuscript to a published book? For my first manuscript, this was really hard to do–it’s a YA mystery, with some historical fiction, with some magical realism, with some romance, with a lot of coming-of-age stuff mixed in. I was having so much trouble coming up with a comparable book–until I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Time to talk about one of my favorite places on earth…
Do you like flowers?
Of course you do. They’re beautiful and fragrant. Do you like Monet?
How could you not? His paintings are beautiful. So I suggest you head to the place that feels like you’ve just stepped into one of his paintings: Giverny, in Normandy France.
Because there’s no day that begins with B so I can’t make it alliterative, I’ve decided Tuesday is now Book Review Tuesday.
Instead of reviewing a few at a time, whenever I have time, I’m going to be reviewing books one at a time, once per week. I’ll include 3 main things: the Goodreads summary, so you know what it’s about, the first 250 words of the book, so you know if the writing style is for you, and my favorite quotes, because I love quotes.
Sound good? Let’s begin then.
Today’s book: Every Day by David Levithan
I think Mondays are a good day for a quick writing lesson, don’t you? At the beginning of the work week I’m (usually) in a productive mindset. So going forward, on Mondays I’m going to be sharing some little tips that can improve your writing in a big way.
First up: On how (and why) not to show and tell
I’ve written about this before, because it’s my biggest pet peeve and such a clear marker of an amateur writer. I used to do it myself. I see it in first drafts. I even see it in published novels. And all I can think is: ARGH.
Show and tell is when you show your reader something and then, just in case they’re super dense, also tell them what’s going on. As a reader, I hate being pandered to that way. And as a writer, it makes me cringe. When you imply something, you don’t need to then state it outright.
An example of showing and telling:
“Don’t eat that,” I say. “It’s too hot.”
Cara looks right at me, as if taunting me, then ignores my advice and takes a bite of her pizza anyway. A moment later, she spits it out, fanning her mouth. Clearly, it was hot.
I smile, pleased I was right.
Compare that to:
“Don’t eat that,” I say. “It’s too hot.”
Cara looks right at me and takes a bite of her pizza. A moment later, she spits it out, fanning her mouth.
Do you see how much better the second one is?
You don’t need to tell your reader that Cara is ignoring the narrator’s advice and then taunting her–you’ve already shown her doing those things. You don’t need to tell the reader the pizza’s hot–Cara’s actions imply this. Also, anytime you use the world “clearly”, that’s a red flag that you probably don’t need that sentence at all. Finally, you don’t need to tell your reader the narrator is pleased–the fact that she smiles is enough.
When you apply this to your own writing, it becomes tighter and just overall better.
Image from a broken link–if anyone has the source, please let me know!