it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken
matociquala

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concrete, specific, vivid

Chewing away at the wolves this morning. 50K or bust!

Okay, so, when I talk about sentence-level craft, here's yet another example of wiggling a paragraph around to remove scaffolding and repetition and get it where I want it. It's not a particularly showy sentence, being simple narrative exposition, but in some ways that makes it a better example.

Scaffolding is killer. By scaffolding, what I mean is all those words that don't do anything to actually make your sentence mean anything, or contribute to its rhythm. Those excess adverbs, prepositional phrases, restatements, cliche expressions, and so on. The stuff we do reflexively, which does nothing to our prose except clutter it up.


Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths held generosity in high esteem. As high esteem, Frithulf had said, as any wolfcarl held valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths held generosity in high esteem. They esteemed it as highly, Frithulf had said, as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly, Frithulf had said, as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity as highly as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

From what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar, Brokkolfr remembered that the race of smiths cherished generosity as passionately as any thane or wolfcarl cherished valor.

From what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar, Brokkolfr remembered that the race of smiths cherished generosity as passionately as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

Yeah. It's not poetry, it's not a great flight of description. But it's clear and it's well-organized and the line of direction is obvious (earlier versions suffer from the paranthetical in the middle, slowing things down.) It's a sentence that is doing its job.

And I'll probably change it three more times before the book hits print.

Prose is not just about pretty. It's about making the words do their jobs: concrete, specific, vivid. Those are the things that anchor the reader firmly in the fictional dream the writer hopes to conjure.

And yeah, I do this with pretty much everything I write. So my first draft story is comprised of seventh-draft sentences. And then I go over it seven or eight more times in various revision passes.
Tags: iskryne, the writer at work, writing craft wank
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