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Thread: More practice

  1. #1

    More practice

    I am not asking for a revision or help from you. If any of you would like to help it would mean a great deal to me. I just wanted to show you all that I am improving.

    The pounding echoed throughout the ranch style home, as it interuppted Kit's bath. She had been soaking her aching muscles from a long week of teaching a classroom full of eight year olds. It was Friday night, she had no cares in the world but to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. She had the entire weekend to herself to recuperate from teaching. Her head descended below the surface of the water. The coolness relaxed the limbs of her aching body. The sounds faded in the distance as her eyes closed and her head sank further below. The striking on the door intensified as her head resurfaced from the beneath the water's depth. She stepped from the poreclein tub, as the bubbles trickled down her face. She waded through the puddle of water as she reached for the nearest towel. As she made a dash to the door, she held the knot to shield some privacy.
    "I'm coming!"she yelled.
    The knocking on the door sounded as if someone was trying to break in. Shaking her head, Kit wondered who would be paying her a late night visit. The clock above the sofa chimed midnight. She grumbled underneath her breathe as the door had been angrily opened.
    Before her stood Gavin. The sight of him after all those years of being absent in her life, his appearence left her vulnerable to the past remembrances of a life that no longer existed. The touch of his hand was a burn to her soul. Anger hit her as quickly as the shock appeared by the glimpse of him. Her face expressed the pain that had been hidden beneath her sheltered heart.
    "May I come in?"
    Her only reaction to his sudden arrival at her door step was to slam the door in his face.

  2. #2

    Re: More practice

    I'm only going to point out a couple of sample sentences, and then try to explain what passive voice is.

    She had been soaking her aching muscles from a long week of teaching a classroom full of eight year olds.

    (Use of "had been" is passive voice and hampers your rhythm. Avoid "had" and "was-ing" and "of" as much as possible, and shoot for active voice. Also, you might want to make this you beginning sentence and transpose it with the "The pounding echoed" sentence, because we want to be with the character from the get-go. Don't need to say "classroom full of" because "of" is passive. Just say eight year olds. Anyway, maybe say: "Kit soaked her aching muscles in a hot bath, after a long week teaching eight year olds. A pounding echoed through out the ranch house, interrupting the quiet.")

    She had the entire weekend to herself to recuperate from teaching.

    (note the redundant use of "to" in this sentence, which again, makes the rhythm awkward and uncomfortable to the brain. Teaching was just used, so you don't need to repeat the word. "She had the entire weekend to recuperate.")

    Her head descended below the surface of the water.

    (It sounds like her head just fell off, due to the passive use of "of." Maybe just say, "She slid lower into the tub, letting her head dip beneath the water.")

    The coolness relaxed the limbs of her aching body.

    (This is very passive, and again, distances the reader from the moment. Us of "of" is passive and weakens the sentence. "The coolness relaxed her aching limbs.")

    She stepped from the poreclein tub, as the bubbles trickled down her face.

    (No need to say, "as." Porcelain is misspelled. Maybe, "She stepped from the porcelain tub. Bubbles trickled down her face.")

    She waded through the puddle of water as she reached for the nearest towel.

    (Use of "as she" is unnecessary. If she's wading through a puddle, it sounds like it's up to her knees in water. Maybe: "She stepped through puddled water, and reached for a towel.)

    Before her stood Gavin.

    (Put the subject of the sentence at the beginning of the sentence (Active voice). So maybe: "Gavin stood before her.")

    I'm going to stop here. I really think the problem here is a simple unawareness of what passive voice and is, and why it should be used sparingly.

    Try to delete words like: "As, To, Of, Had, Was, Were, That, Still, Felt, Noticed, Saw, Just, Nice, Thought, Up, and Down." Also words like "beautiful, dark, tall, and pretty." It's a painful process, but the result is more dynamic writing.

    For example: "She'd never" is past perfect, which is fine, but should only be used when you can't wriggle out of it. "She never," says pretty much the same thing. "She'd finished ..." is repetitive. Saying "she finished," means the same thing. Not "who'd conspired together," but "who conspired together"....

    Passive; watching him stride.
    Active: He strode.

    We are in her pov so the reader knows she is the one "seeing" the scene ("she watched," "she thought") so if you say that, then you're taking the reader out of the character's head. She isn't thinking, "I'm watching him stride." When you write "He strode" you are using the present tense verb which makes the sentence active voice, and putting the reader in the character's head.

    Some goes for "as ..." which is a big problem in your work.

    Passive: "As he paused, he scanned her face intently."

    Active: "He paused, and scanned her face intently."

    You state firmly that she knows he is watching her intently, his body language, words, facial expression.

    Usually, if you have '-ing' instead of "-ed", or words like "that, was, were, saw, thought, felt" etc ... you are writing in passive voice.

    Passive voice is not necessarily bad grammar, and I think that's why new writers don't take it seriously for the first few years learning the craft.

    The problem with passive voice isn't the grammar, it's how readers perceive it. They want to become the character and stay in the character. My suggestions in the critique don't change the story, but it places the reader in the story, inside your protagonist ... as the main focus (not the tub or the knocking on the door, or various limbs) at that exact moment in her life. The reader should not be allowed to think of anything but the protagonist.

    Check your writing. If what you wrote could only come from the mouth of the main POV character then you are writing in active voice.

    If someone who wasn't even there, or a detached narrator could be reading the story remotely, then it is written in passive voice.

    You can also look at the passive voice and ask yourself: "Is the character thinking this?"

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    F Walter

    Re: More practice

    Well I dont know about Kayla, but it certainly helped me.
    Great explaining Lindi thats going straight in with all the other advice I swipe fom the boards. Copy and paste is just the greatest thing.

    P.S, Hey talk about brainwave Kayla I've collected so much info since I've been on these boards if you want I'll be happy to send u a copy of the file so far.

  4. #4
    F Walter

    Re: More practice

    Argh! typo's galore. I really wish we could edit our posts on here after posting them. I didn't even put a single comma in that last line I typed (and it really needed some). *blushes furiously* Leave me alone I was in a hurry.
    P.S Kayla please dont take my last post as an example. I honestly have learnt loads since discovering this board.

  5. #5
    Diane G

    Good stuff, Lindi

    Thanks for the great lesson in editing. I'd write more but everything I want to say sounds too passive.

  6. #6
    Keshia Watson

    Re: Good stuff, Lindi

    I agree with Fran and Diane. Lindi thank you for such great advice, I will copy and paste just as I have been since the day I came here.
    Kayla - I read that piece when you first posted it some weeks ago, I can see the improvement and I say you are on the right track. Please do as we have done and copy and paste Lindi's advice, if you really want to improve you would have done so already.

    Keshia x

  7. #7

    Re: Good stuff, Lindi

    Wow guys, thanks! (also blushing) )

  8. #8

    Re: Good stuff, Lindi

    Oh and Fran, I never worry about typos in emails or board posts unless their a sub for critique. Everyone accidentally says "your" when they meant "you're." It's just our squishy brains skipping past the easy stuff. It's how we drive to work without consciously focusing on the process. Our brains fill in the blank spots, and we drive to work, when we meant to drive to the grocery store, LoL! (Or am I the only only one!?!) Anyway, I personally don't demand perfect grammar of posts and emails. That's just me ;o)

  9. #9

    Re: Good stuff, Lindi

    see??? "they're" .... !!! LoL!

  10. #10

    Re: Good stuff, Lindi

    Nice post Lindi. I copy and paste as well. Even though Kayla asked many of the same questions, it is surprising what redundacies yield. Without Kayla 46th time asking the same questions, Lindi's post would be lurking somewhere in the far recesses of her mind begging for freedom.

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