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  1. #11
    Ab Kaye

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)

    John- I'm assuming by "weak verbs" you mean linking verbs-- like you said pretty much any form of "to be"-- I was wondering if you meant those PLUS all my other action words? I happen to like what my character is doing and, like Cindy said, I like to show, so I'm curious if you meant specifically linking verbs....
    And how many linking verbs would you personally find acceptable in a paragraph? I print out my work and highlight every linking verb so that I can edit, but it's hard to avoid them all.
    And I would be extremely appreciative if you could point out weak spots in my tense decisions.

    .... That's a lot of work for a critique and I won't be offended if you can't get to it all!

  2. #12
    Cindy Kay

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)


    Better. Still too much padding, I think. One of the ways to remove padding in first person is to take out the announcement language. You don't have to say things like, "I noticed..." When writing in first person, the reader assumes anything described is noticed by the narrator.

    Here's a 250-word edit that cuts some of that stuff along with a bunch of other stuff that felt like you were backing into ideas/descriptions.

    Later that evening, I lay on my bed and absently picked at loose threads in the bedspread. There wasn't much I could do. These people were controlling my every move; they were even starting to control the way I thought. After just a few hours with Veronica, I was even mimicing her sarcasm. I yanked at another thread. What was I? Some kind of trained dog?

    My fingers worked faster, plucking at the black grid of threads. But what if I wasn't as helpless as they wanted me to believe? What if... I jolted from the bed. What if I could uncover their secrets? All the whispers and hidden documents, the evidence had to be in the house somewhere. The sudden realization felt clean and scary, like a rogue wave crashing over me. But I'd have to wait. The house was crammed with people; I could hear them laughing and stomping about downstairs. I sat on the bed and twisted a long black thread around my finger. They had to sleep sometime. I jerked the thread loose. I'd be ready. I lay back and began to count the planks in the pine ceiling. I was good at waiting, even better at waiting alone.

    I counted until my eyes blurred, until the ruckus dimmed then the house grew silent. The wood floor was cold and slick under my bare feet when I stood up, but I giggled and made for the door. I had a plan.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #13
    John Oberon

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)


    By weak verbs, I mean verbs that lose almost all force of meaning due to overuse. Take cursing for example. Ever been with someone who uses the f-word constantly? It soon loses any meaning and just becomes a nuisance that clutters real meaning. That's what weak verbs do to writing; they stand in the way of real meaning. Here's a list of weak or what I call "empty" verbs. Writers may utilize some of these verbs to good effect as nouns or adjectives, or as verbs with a meaning different than ordinary. Ex: The boy suffers deep want; He is a man on the take (or make or go, but careful with idioms); His use of her shows glaringly on her face.

    to be - be, been, being, am, are, is, was, were
    to have - have, having, has, had
    to do - do, doing, done, did
    to take - take, taking, taken, took
    to make - make, making, made
    to go - go, goes, going, gone, went
    to see - see, seeing, seen, saw
    to look - look, looking, looked
    to use - use, used, using
    to get - get, got, getting, gotten
    to keep - keep, keeping, kept
    to seem – seem, seeming, seemed
    to want - want, wanted, wanting

    Also, the helping verb “can”. Caution with “will”, “should”, “could”, and “would”.

  4. #14
    John Oberon

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)


    Alrighty...I just had a chance to look at your last re-write.

    Eliminate "ing" verbs as much as possible; they're weaker than straight past or present tense. Also, the word “that”…99% of the time you can just delete it without any problems.

    The more I look at this, the more I think you have a knack for choosing the wrong words. Here’s just a few examples, but I think there’s an example in every sentence:

    The MC is not absentminded at all – she’s thinking very specific thoughts.

    Typically, people don’t have jolts of excitement as they realize something. They realize something, and the excitement builds with the realization and the formulation of a plan.

    Her body is not static. First, “static” is not a word typically applied to living things; second, she’s moving – picking at loose strands.

    Rooms “filled” with people implies many people in each room – is that what you wanted to say?

    See what I mean?

    Also (I should’ve noted this right off), an ever-present danger with first-person writing is narcissism. The author gets so “into” the character’s mind, that he starts detailing every emotional and mental burp and fart of the MC while the story atrophies. I don’t think you’re particularly guilty of that (yet), but there’s another element to it: overuse of the personal pronouns I, me, my, and mine. I bet you use them over 40 times just in this short piece. So…300 words, and verging on 15% of them are I, me, my, or mine…sound just a tad self-absorbed? Try to cut that down.

  5. #15
    Ab Kaye

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)

    I just got a chance to read your latest advice John, and thank you! You're absolutely right about first-person sounding self absorbed and I'm trying to keep that in mind as I write and edit my previous writing.

    I'm trying to find the balance between things that I like about my work and the different advice that I receive. Ultimately, it is my choice what to keep or throw away, but I obviously have to think about what is going to run through the reader's mind! I love some of my word choices, so reevaluating some of them can be painful - maybe I just like obscure writing! Just another thing that I'm spending practically all of my non-school time thinking about....

    Thank you for all your help, it's very kind to spend time helping out a stranger, and I appreciate it very much.

  6. #16
    John Oberon

    Re: Fresh meat for critique :)

    Not an uncommon problem - not wanting to throw away your "darlings". But I think if you carefully consider what meaning you wish to convey, you'll see some of those "darling" word choices turn into trolls right before your eyes.

    I like to help when I can.

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