Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things To Avoid

Following up on last Friday's post, something that irritates me beyond belief is when I hear someone who says, "I'd like to introduce you to so and so, the high muckety-muck of this and that." My immediate, knee-jerk response is always: "Oh, you'd LIKE to introduce me to so and so but you're not going to? Why not?"

If I'd LIKE to do something I'll do it.

Another thing that annoys me is when someone says "I just wanted to tell you this and that about so and so." Oh? You did? You 'just wanted'. Why didn't you?

No one ever 'just wants' to do something. If they're apologizing for it by saying they 'just want' to do something, it may not be something they want to do.

I avoid both of these phrases in my writing like the plague. Yes, the goddamned PLAGUE. If I've learned anything about writing over the last few years, it's that the thing that has to be done or said has to be said else you're wasting valuable pixels or ink on a thing that's unnecessary and probably BORING.

That's the pitfall that writers have to avoid most of all, being boring. I suggest that characters who say things like "I'd like to" and "I just wanted to" are probably real-sounding and if that's the type of story you're writing, then go for it. Write the dialogue that way. In my opinion, those are colloquialisms and should be avoided. Not that everyone in a novel should speak formally, god that'd be as boring as writing everything the other way. But if you're using those phrases in more than one place across more than one character your own natural speaking voice is creeping into your writing voice. Your writing will be better for avoiding them altogether.

I suggest that writers should be affirmative in writing their characters' dialogue. People who talk affirmatively are strong characters, especially in real life. They use phrases like the above sparingly and save them for occasions when they need them. They're aware of the language and the power that words have, especially when one is telling a story.

Finally, these two phrases are so ingrained into our daily life, they are so colloquial, that they've both crept into this post. I took the word 'just' out of the body of this post four times. It hits when you're not looking. All I'm saying is that you should look for it.