Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An essay to inspire better writing

A few weeks ago I happened to discover a blog by a former editorial assistant, now editor --Editorial Ass. It provides much entertainment and actually helped me conquer my anxiety about deadlines and revisions etc. And because we operate in slightly different areas of publishing, I do not share the same views on the necessity of agents. But I digress.

She happened to highlight a lovely essay on writing -- Annie Dillard and the Writing Life by Alexander Chee. It is well worth reading and will hopefully inspire people to write better or to think about how they write and why. It is about the possible rather than the impossible.
The bit about active verbs reminded me as ever of Strunk and White. But I would humbly suggest that there is a world difference between stroll, saunter and walk with painful slowness, measuring each step against the last. Sometimes adverbs are a necessary part of the English language. Precision in language can be a good thing when not taken to extremes and ten dollar words.

I am thus planning on putting in a few good hours on my revisions and truly thinking about them and the way they need to be handled. Do I really want to count verbs on the page though?


Donna Alward said...

I love your example. It departs the world of the verb and takes us into the world of imagery. So there. I shudder at the thought of counting verbs. I do however believe in examining every sentence. Precision is necessary, but not to the extent that the flow is lost and it becomes choppy.

You are going to kick butt on these revisions you know. :-)

Kate Hardy said...

That was an excellent essay - thanks for the pointer. (Interesting blog you linked to, as well.)

Adverbs and adjectives, I think, do have their place. It's when someone's being lazy and overdoes it that my blue pen used to go through it. That, and bad speech tags. But that's a rant for a different day.

With Donna re the revs :o)

Michelle Styles said...

Oh the Editorial Ass is v interesting and gives insight into an editorial type mind.

I am pleased you like the essay. The counting verbs things at least makes you aware I suppose and sometimes it is easy to become lazy and forget that language can be used to a great effect.

And yes, it is the over dosing on adverbs and adjectives that makes one go -- oh but you could have been more effective if...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link - brilliant in so many ways... and explained me natural usage of passive voice.