Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't Waste One Word

Today in class, I repeat my new writing slogan: Don't Waste One Word.

As we finish all the lessons in How to Write with Flair, students know that every single word matters. Each word creates a precise mood and image.

Don't waste one word. Don't settle for a weak or imprecise word when you can select a vivid and deliciously specific one.

We juice the sentence down to its best parts. We invite the sentence to do what we know it was meant to do.

I ask students to transform the weak verb into an image and mood-producing verb, and they proceed with flair. Instead of:

The leaves are on the ground.

They write:

The leaves garnish the ground. They dance on the ground. They obscure the ground. They even grapple with the ground. And of course, they blanket the ground.

I actually perceive things differently when I don't waste the verb. This isn't just writing we're talking about; it's living. I want vivid and deliciously specific, right this very moment.

The words--when I don't waste them--change everything.

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How's your writing life going?