Here, some notes taken from the last 1000 stories I’ve read as an acquisitions editor. I took a close look at why some stories read better than others. Naturally, every editor is different, but these were my personal observations, presented here for whatever help they may be to beginning writers.
Some leashes that jerk at readers’ necks:
- The word ‘As’ at the start of sentences. eg: As she walked out the door she looked over her shoulder. The reader’s brain is tugged to a stop by dealing with two actions at one time.
- Excessive ‘-ing’ words. for similar reasons. eg: Walking away, Chas whistled into the wind. I know we all had sentence-combining lessons as students and got gold stars for doing this. We get to keep the stars, but it’s well to lose a lot of gerunds.
Some styles that look strong but read weak:
- All caps, and nearly every single exclamation mark. There are more powerful ways to say almost any of these. Naturally, like everything in the world, this isn’t true for everyone. Ray Bradbury and Tom Wolfe use exclamation marks beautifully, and Stephen King uses all caps.
- Sounds spelled out. It looks a bit early-reader and takes away the our pleasure in imagining the sounds.
I’m glad authors differ in styles, strengths, and emphases, because I like to read new books, and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel
There’s a new Stella Ryman book in town: The Labours of Mrs Stella Ryman.
Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and the Monument Studios Mysteries starring Frankie Ray as The Extra. Mel is Senior Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here.
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