Tag Archives: Assistance

Sessions

“I don’t know what to do, Doc.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m stuck. Let me go back to the beginning.”

“That would be helpful.”

“Remember me telling you about Stacy?”

“The young woman in the abusive marriage that you’ve fallen in love with.”

“Right. Well, she’s recently told me that she’s not going to look for a way out right now.”

“Did she say why?”

“She says she’s not strong enough to leave. She has small kids, remember.”

“I’m not following. Wouldn’t that give her more cause to leave, not less?”

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you, Doc. She thinks if she were to check into a shelter, all she’d be able to do is sit on the bed and cry. She says she wouldn’t be able to take care of her babies.”

“Alright. She seems to have made her decision. There’s not more you can do.”

“I’m afraid that’s not the issue.”

“What is the issue, then?”

“You know I told you she always says she wants to make sure no one gets hurt?”

“I do. You said that Stacy doesn’t want to leave her abuser because she doesn’t want to take a chance on her being wrong about the abuse, and she doesn’t want to hurt you because she loves you.”

“Right. Well, last night, I pointed out the corner she’s painted herself into…”

“Go on.”

“Doc, I told her she’s going to have to choose sooner, or later, how is more important to her: The guy that she’s terrified of, or the guy that she says makes her happier than she’s ever been.”

“…”

“And then, I said, ‘I’m not sure I want to wait much longer.'”

“Oh, no. You gave her an ultimatum.”

“Yeah.”

“Take one of these tissues, and wipe your eyes.”

“Thanks. What do I do, Doc?”

“What do you think you should do?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.”

“Well, the way I see it, you have only one option.”

“Just one? What is it?”

“You love her, right?”

“Of course I do. She’s the most important person in the world to me.”

“Then decide if you really meant your words, or if they were a misguided attempt to spur Stacy to action.”

“And if I did mean them, Doc?”

“Then you have to walk away.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not making things easier for this poor woman. You’re making them worse.”

“But she says I’m not.”

“Tell me something: If this young woman is in an abusive relationship with a controlling man-”

Boy. A man wouldn’t abuse a woman.”

“Boy, then. If she’s in a controlling relationship, then do you really think that giving her an ultimatum is helpful?”

“No.”

“Lift your head, and take some time to think things over. Choose which path you’re going to do down. Remember, if you really love Stacy, you’ll choose the path that makes things easier on her.”

“Alright, Doc. Thanks.”

“Same time next week?”

“…Yeah…sure.”

“Good. See you next Tuesday at 3.”

“Right. Goodbye.”

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Reblogged: 8 Words to Seek & Destroy in Your Writing.

I found this an immediately had to share it. I never noticed these words before. Must hunt & destroy them from my writing…

From LitReactor.com:

Creating powerful prose requires killing off the words, phrases, and sentences that gum up your text. While a critical eye and good judgment are key in this process, some terms almost always get in the way. Here are eight words or phrases that should be hunted down in your story and deleted with extreme prejudice.

“Suddenly”
“Sudden” means quickly and without warning, but using the word “suddenly” both slows down the action and warns your reader. Do you know what’s more effective for creating the sense of the sudden? Just saying what happens.

I pay attention to every motion, every movement, my eyes locked on them.
Suddenly, The gun goes off.
When using “suddenly,” you communicate through the narrator that the action seemed sudden. By jumping directly into the action, you allow the reader to experience that suddenness first hand. “Suddenly” also suffers from being nondescript, failing to communicate the nature of the action itself; providing no sensory experience or concrete fact to hold on to. Just … suddenly.

Feel free to employ “suddenly” in situations where the suddenness is not apparent in the action itself. For example, in “Suddenly, I don’t hate you anymore,” the “suddenly” substantially changes the way we think about the shift in emotional calibration.

“Then”
“Then” points vaguely to the existing timeline and says, “It was after that last thing I talked about.” But the new action taking place in a subsequent sentence or sentence part implies that much already. You can almost always eliminate your thens without disrupting meaning or flow.

I woke up. Then I, brushed my teeth. Then I, combed my hair. Then I , and went to work.

“Then” should be used as a clarifying agent, to communicate that two seemingly concurrent actions are happening in sequence. For example, “I drove to the supermarket. Then I realized I didn’t need to buy anything.” Without the “then,” it would be easy to mistake this as pre-existing knowledge or as a realization that happened during the drive itself. “Then” can occasionally be useful for sentence flow, but keep the use of the word to a minimum.

“In order to”
You almost never need the phrase “in order to” to express a point. The only situation where it’s appropriate to use this phrase is when using “to” alone would create ambiguity or confusion.

I’m giving you the antidote in order to save you.

And after ten minutes of brainstorming for an example of a proper time to use “in order to,” I haven’t been able to come up with anything. Legitimate uses of “in order to” are just that few and far between.

“Very” and “Really”
Words are self-contained descriptors, and saying, “Think of tasty. Now think of more tasty” doesn’t help readers develop a better sense of the meal or person you’re describing.

Her breath was very cold chill as ice against my neck .

Mark Twain suggested that writers could “substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Another strategy is to find a more powerful version of the same idea or give concrete details. To say “It was very/really/damn hot” does little, but saying “It was scorching” helps. Even better?: “The air rippled like desert sky as my body crisped into a reddened, dried-out husk.”

“Is”
Is, am, are, was, or were—whatever form your “is” takes, it’s likely useless. When’s the last time you and your friends just “was’d” for a while? Have you ever said, “Hey, guys, I can’t—I’m busy am-ing”?

The “is” verbs are connecting terms that stand between your readers and the actual description. This is especially true when it comes to the “is” + “ing” verb pair. Any time you use “is,” you’re telling the reader that the subject is in a state of being. Using an “ing” verb tells the audience the verb is in process. By using “is verbing,” you’re telling your audience that the subject is in the state of being of being in the process of doing something.

Take this example:

I was sprinting sprinted toward the doorway.

If the description is actually about a state of being—”they are angry,” “are evil,” or “are dead”—then is it up. But don’t gunk up your verbs with unnecessary is, am, or was-ing.

“Started”
Any action a person takes is started, continued, and finished. All three of these can be expressed by the root form of the verb. For example, “I jumped.” The reader who stops in frustration, saying, “But when did the jump start? When did it finish?” has problems well beyond the scope of the content they’re reading.

If you’ve been doing yoga for six years, you could reasonably say, “I started doing yoga six years ago.” For you, yoga is an ongoing action with a concrete starting point. But when describing action in a story, there are few circumstances where “start” is effective.

Let’s take this case and look at the potential fixes:

He started screaming.

Is it a single scream? Use “He screamed.” Are you telling us his screams will be background noise for a while? Rather than clueing us in unnecessarily, show us the series of screams first-hand. Do you want to introduce a changed state, such as escalating from loud speaking into screaming? Show us the decibels, the gruffness of voice, the way the air feels to the person he’s screaming at, and the hot dryness in the screamer’s throat as his volume crescendos.

“That”
“That” is a useful word for adding clarity, but like Bibles on the bedstands of seedy motel rooms, the word’s presence is often out of place.

When “that” is employed to add a description, you can almost always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.

Ireland was nothing but flowing green hills that flowed green.

In many other cases, “that” can simply be dropped or replaced with a more descriptive term.

I was drunk the night that your father and I met.

Many other uses of “that,” such as “I wish I wasn’t that ugly”, can be enhanced with more descriptive language.

“Like”
I’m not just saying that, like, you shouldn’t, like, talk like a valley girl (though that too). Here’s the problem: “Like” is used to show uncertainty. And you. Should. Not. Be. Uncertain.

Be bold. When making a comparison, use force. Use metaphor over simile. Don’t let yourself cop out by coming up with a halfway description.

My eyes rested on the gun for a sliver of a moment. I snapped forward, grabbed it, and it was like the chill metal flowed from the gun into my veins.

One of the 36 articles by the infamously fantastic Chuck Palahniuk dives into the issue of like in great detail. It’s well worth checking out.

As always, Orwell’s final rule applies: “Break any of these rules before saying anything barbarous.” There are instances where each of these words fills a valuable role. However, especially among inexperienced writers, these words are frequently molested and almost always gum up the works.

Apply these lessons immediately and consistently to empower your words. Then, with practice, you will suddenly realize that you are starting to naturally trim the text in order to create prose that is very powerful. -Rob D. Young @ litreactor.com

As I promised…

I’ve discovered some fantastic resources for my writing. There’re listed below with a short blurb about why I like them and links to them.

The Bookshelf Muse: This blog, by two YA authors, is a great writing resource. It features things like a Setting Thesaurus, which helps beginning writters with describing locations; a Character Traits Thesaurus, which helps flesh out your characters; and a few others. Bookshelf Muse

The Emotion Thesaurus: A book, written by the authors of The Bookshelf Muse, that aids you in showing, not telling, how your characters are feeling. I have a copy, and it really has helped improve my work. Buy a copy here: Emotion Thesaurus

AutoCrit Editing Wizard: Kind of self-explanatory. With the free version, you paste your work (5oo words) and press the analyze button. The wizard will indicate what words are overused, sentence variation and cliche’s & redundancies. AutoCrit Wizard

I’ll post more later.