Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Craft: Stating the Obvious

A quick update and then on to a Craft of Writing post.

Everyone should have their royalty statements. If you made less than $5, your royalties have been rolled into second quarter. Royalty checks and Paypal have been sent. If you do not have money by next Monday, please let me know!

What's coming soon:
Resistance. In which a ragtag band of outcast elves take control of a city pivotal in a war.
Dominant Tendencies: all m/m, all genre BDSM anthology. Cyberpunk, fantasy, urban fantasy and SF all with a side of kink.
Hungry hearts: Erotic horror, with graveyard angels and true love that not even death can stop.

We have other goodies in edits, and we'll talk about those as they come closer to release.

FroliCon is almost upon us. Look for an update about that soon.

So, now let's talk about Stating the obvious.

Words come not only with their basic denotative meaning, but with connotative meaning and implied meanings as well.

Consider "table." This is generally taken to mean a flat, freestanding surface for putting objects on.

It is usually modified. Dining table. Coffee table. End table.  Wooden dining table. Glass coffee table. End table made out of porno vids.

But it remains a table. It carries the implied meaning that people aren't going to sleep on it or sit on it.

Implied meaning can be a tricky thing for writers. Often when making word count or out-thinking people (many of my writers are former gamers and cover every contingency) , there is the urge to over-detail the scene.

"He reached into his pocket with his hand" was one such phrase. My immediate reaction was "Well I hope he didn't use his feet or his tongue!" When the author protested, I reminded him that "hand" was implied by "reach." If he had meant fingertips, he would have said so, or used a different verb. "Fished in his pocket with his fingertips," would have conveyed a different motion than "reached."

"A whistle from a man's lips" was another one. Anything that makes me giggle as if I'm 12 and make naughty comments about where else he could be whistling from is a bad sentence. "Whistle" implies "lips." If there is an actual whistle involved, or a couple fingers, or another orifice, THEN say something. But rest assured, your readers will assume he is whistling from his lips.

Or the character who gets into the fridge to make a rum and coke, takes all the ingredients out, shuts the fridge and mixes the drinks, which she just got out of the fridge.  I kind of face-palmed over that paragraph and reduced it to"started mixing a rum and coke" because the refrigerator should not be a major character in the book!

Be aware of the connotations and implied meanings. You are wordsmiths. Your readers do not want to go "buh-zuh?" or be talked down to. Reading aloud helps catch a lot of these. Beta-readers are also helpful.

So, what is the most "duh" moment you've encountered when reading? Did someone take a hood off his head? or put shoes on her feet? Tell me about it.

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