Of Writing and Swamps

My writing process is not pretty.  

 This current WIP is beginning the same way PORTRAITS  did.  In utter madness.   My stories begin with me diving into a mental swamp.  It’s dark and murky, but I know something is down there.  My first drafts are never really true drafts in the sense they aren’t a narrative at all.  Rather, they are pages and pages of discovery.  Random images, dialogue, scenes.  I write it all down as it comes, in all its nonsensical glory.

Seventy five pages in and I’m learning about my main character.   Her loves and fears.  Why she was placed in the asylum. . .

And then there’s the murder.  I’m combining my love of the Victorian era with my love of  Agatha Christie whodunnits.  I have my victim and the culprit.   The end scene is clear.

This swamp is fun to play in.

How is everyone else’s writing coming along?

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Writing: Those Horrid Exclamation Points

For my next few posts, I’ve decided to focus on certain “writing rules” which are circulating around writing forums causing waves of panic.

These include:

No exclamation points!

No adverbs

No saidisms

Naturally, my take on these is just that.  My own.   There are many writers who may happily disagree with me.

Okay,  today let’s look at those horrid exclamation points.

There was a time that novels overflowed with them.   You’ll find an abundance in classic literature of the 19th. c.   But they later reached their zenith in pulp novels.

Here are a few made-up examples:

1.  He entered the room.  It was empty!  The killer had escaped out the window!

2.  She opened her mouth in utter horror!  She tried to scream but no sound would come out!  She was paralyzed with fear.  The man had a gun!

3.  “Oh, Maria!  You are so beautiful!”

Is it any wonder that a new movement came in declaring the exclamation point over-the-top and childish?  Writers were urged not to use them.

Now, many writers are afraid to ever use an exclamation point.   Let’s diminish their fears.

True, exclamation points are hardly ever necessary in prose.  Avoid them there unless you want to remind readers of the ’60s Batman show.

However, let’s look at dialogue.  If a character is stuck in a burning building,  “Help!”  looks a lot more fitting than, “Help.”

Used very sparingly and in the right places- exclamation points are not the horrid punctuation marks they’ve been made out to be.  (perhaps not even in the rare prose)

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm  Comments (11)  
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