Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Radar O'Reilly Writes Again

Last week I read the perfect story to stimulate today's post. I won't give names. No titles. Not a clue about the story. Those details aren't important, because we can all see a bit of ourselves in this topic.

C'mon this is a time to laugh at the writing you used to do...and maybe still slip into every once in a while.

In fact, I'll bring in Radar O'Reilly, company clerk for MASH 4077 (TV show) as our guest to help us enjoy today's ride.

In Episode 15 of season 5, Radar signs up for a writing course to improve himself. He says, "Writers gain respect from those around them."

The first day of his course Radar dives into his new role as a writer with this:

The friendly old sun showed his friendly hot face over the mountains of purple majesty as though he was salutating, "Good morning to all."

When his commanding officer calls him under for toying with the military form, Radar says he was adding self-expression to the duty log.

Aha. The key. Adding self-expression. The old author intrusion with a heavy dash of purple prose issue. 

Author intrusion: When we Alice-In-Wonderland ourselves into the story to explain components the reader might miss. After all, readers like to see behind the Wizard of Oz's curtain, right? They might miss the hidden point if we don't. 

Purple prose: The reader may not picture the scene clearly without the added adjectives and adverbs. We're only trying to make the story easier for the reader to see with these clarifying words.

Best rule: strong words/sentences/paragraphs do not need the help of clarifiers to paint a 3D story.

CHALLENGE # 1 How would you help Radar rewrite his sunrise sentence?

Before heading off to bed, Radar finishes the daily log this way:

The sun in its crimson radiance bids a crepuscular adieu to another day.

He asks his commanding officer what he thought of the writing. 
The colonel says he doesn't like it because it sounds like Radar "swallowed a dictionary."

Radar replies,"I'm adding muscle to my vocabulary."

Aha. Another key. Trying to impress with fancy words. 

The perfect word choice: is the word most commonly used in the situation. A reader wants to sit back with a cup of his favorite beverage and enjoy a great read. There are no dictionary apps open on his phone, neither is there a hard copy sitting on his night stand. He wants to be engaged in the story, running with the MC, and yelling at them when they makes the wrong turn. There isn't time to look up a word.

To help a reader deep sea dive into a good story use only the natural word choice. No additives.

CHALLENGE # 2 How would you help Radar rewrite his sunset sentence using natural words?

As a newbie writer I became frustrated after reading a judges crit. She felt I should focus on writing tight. I remember thinking...this judge is so picky. Every word was necessary. How can anyone write a story longer than 40 words if they trim all the words critique partners and judges say. They just don't understand my story.

Um. No. 

I didn't understand my story.

Photo Courtesy

Radar would like to leave you with one more challenge. Care to help him with this one?

The Chinese were giving up in hordes. The vainglorious corporal ran like a bird and sped off in quest of Chinese giver-uppers.

Simplistically yours, 
Walter "Radar" O'Reilly

Points to remember:
1. Use only words that move the story along.
2. Use natural words.
3. Put adjectives and adverbs on a diet. 
4. Be yourself. Fancy words do not impress.

Caveat - There are times when a pompous character is giving a glorious speech, when this over the top writing is not only expected--but required. (nose high in the air)
Care to take a peek at your last written scene? How did you do?

What questions do you have?

How can we help you?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)
and see how you would help Radar!

 Opening photo by Mary Vee

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

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