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Here's a suggestion that is said to have come from Mark Twain: “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Or just go through the manuscript later and delete or reword 'em yourself.
—The Editors Dec 21, 2017 Getting Serious Dear Geist, I'm having no luck at all getting agents or publishers interested in my book, a work of serious non-fiction. I have lots of other ideas, so maybe I should write something else. Dear Terrence, The spanner in the works may be your terminology.
A typical non-fiction book is signed up on the basis of a core proposal, which is then tweaked for ideal market position before the sentence-to-sentence writing begins.
In the final totting up, you and your friend will both have written harder, longer and better than you knew you could!
It’s a passage about halfway through, and it’s right at the heart of the protagonist’s trouble, and I care about it. I’ve rewritten it four times now and every draft is more tortured than the last one. Dear Stuck, If you have already tried taking a break (see our post Let it rest), try this.
Read through the troublesome passage and choose a sentence or phrase that calls to you, whether because it’s so boring or so disturbing or so appealing. Identify the sentence or phrase in it that calls to you, and write it down on a new piece of paper or in your notebook. Set the timer for fifteen minutes and write from the new bit. We can guarantee that something interesting will come of this exercise.
Or perhaps it’s just another fingernails-down-the-blackboard CBC redundancy, like “in twenty minutes from now.” —The Editors Can I just say one more thing about sentences that go on forever?
Find a great page or paragraph by a writer you admire and write it out in longhand, word for word.
Turn off your phone and go for a thirty-minute walk. If a passage you wrote is bugging you, have someone in your group read it aloud.
—The Editors Nov 16, 2017 Conditional Weather Dear Geist, What’s the difference between weather and weather conditions?
CBC Radio hosts use both, in equally solemn voices, but “weather conditions” sounds somehow more threatening than “weather.” Is it? We love CBC, but we’re guessing “weather conditions” sneaked in there to jazz up the daily drill.