Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to Basics

As a writer you spend countless hours thinking of the right adjective, verb, or word in general to paint a scene for your reader. Even as a child, I loved words and often had the idea I'd read the dictionary to be smarter than my twin sister. Although my innate competitiveness played a huge factor in that divine idea, there was more behind it. In the poems and stories I wrote I constantly searched, and still do, for new ways to say things. As a small child that meant using "big" words or "hard to spell words." Thus, I spent numerous years trying to build up my vocabulary to enhance my writing.
In the past week I have wrote and rewrote one introductory paragraph about the characters in my children's book project. The many revisions of my four to five sentence paragraph concentrated on trying to make it more concise. As a naturally wordy person in speech and writing you can imagine my difficulty. After the tenth or so draft I felt pretty good about the little paragraph I mulled over constantly.
I put it aside and finally having a day off went to the library to do some further research
on children's books in general. After drilling the librarian about different types of children's books, popular authors, and story lines I left with 14 books to further investigate. Last night I manage to get though a couple of the books. When finished it became obvious to me I still had lots of work to do on my little paragraph. Bottom line, the children's book is much more simple in its language than I assumed. When reading the books through the first time I found the language exciting and entertaining. The concepts and motivations in the stories were clear and interesting. Only when reading through a second time did I notice how the wording was simple and straight to the point.
Thus, after years of trying to build up my language and vocabulary I now have to get back to the basics. This is truly a great exercise for any writer. A story is much more poignant if you can say more with less. Therefore, what I describe with two adjectives is better said with one. What I explain in three sentences might read better as two. I think sometimes as creative persons, writers tend to over think a sentence or scene and lose their original intentions. I know I do. So, next time I sit down with my little paragraph I plan to scratch out all the fluff and get it down to the bare bones. Only then can I truly see if my main idea is still intact and what if any further details are truly needed.

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