I am a writer.
This is not so much what I do, as what I am. What I have noticed is that all the little things I incorporate so automatically into my writing do not often seem to occur to anyone else.
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug," in the words of Mark Twain. I am not at all sure how many people grasp the meaning of this quote, or at least grasp the meaning in its entirety.
The nuances of language are important. For example, the subtle differences between "So," she said; "So," she whispered; "So," she murmured; "So," she breathed- or the power in the subtle tools of metaphor and alliteration and the sundry other literary devices that should have been taught to everyone back in grade school.
"She walked for a really long time," versus, "I must have been a nomad in another life, she thought, picking her way over the cluttered forest trail. She winced once at the thought of how far she had yet to go to reach her immediate goal, but the song of the woods, the birds and the innumerable tiny sounds of life, lifted her spirits before they could truly begin to fall."
Dashes, colons, semicolons, periods, the rare (very rare, in good writing) exclamation mark- these all set the tone as well, the punctuation fully as important as word choice, if not more.
Showing, versus telling- this should be pounded into the head of every writer until it is engraved on the back of his or her eyelids. You do not tell the reader what is happening, you do not write, "He looked at them. He did not like them. They were unpleasant." Never. Instead, you should say something like,"He glanced at them uneasily out of the corner of his eye. The female stranger was slouched and picking at her nails with a battered dagger, the male glaring challengingly into his half-empty mug of ale. As he watched the male slammed the mug down and bellowed for the innkeeper, complaining of the sour taste."
Backgrounds- People, you don't all have to be orphans, and I'm not sure why you all seem to want to be. Character- A character has to be flawed, imperfect, but not so badly off as to unbelievable. Seems every character is an orphan, these days, or from an abusive family, and- honestly, show some creativity. I'd love to see someone with a loving family right about now, as well.
There are a lot of very bad writers out there.
All of them, every single one, could easily be better. Learn the rules of spelling, of grammar, of punctuation, of (perhaps most importantly) physics. Characters have to be believable. They should not be performing feats well outside the realms of the possible.
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