Are You In Love With Your Own Writing?

“A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood

There’s this thing called verbal narcissism. It’s pretty much the ability to game a wall, if it comes to that. To sell sand in the Sahara Desert.

It also means to be so in love with your own words that it could mean talking on and on about things that few people ever care about. Or it could happen that you do deliver a strong message, but you’re using so many words to do so, that it’s all distilled to the point of making people want to smack you over the head with their keyboards.

Yes, a word after a word after a word is power. It can change the world. It can earn you a nice income. It can influence people to do more than what they even dreamed possible.

But you can also use too many words. More words than necessary.

You can always tell your story in fewer words. Always. If you think you can’t, try harder. Every minute of additional effort on your part reduces the effort on the part of the reader, and that leads to a more enjoyable experience on their part.

Don’t force your reader to skim through thousands of words when only a few paragraphs will suffice.

To paraphrase Stephen King, kill your darlings. Delete the words that are not meant to be there, even if you love them. If the words you use are not moving the piece forward, then they must go.

This is law, and pretending it’s not will only hurt you.


14 thoughts on “Are You In Love With Your Own Writing?

  1. A terrific reminder. I regularly wonder about words – there’s so much to read, how to people chose? What’s so different about how I say what’s already been said a million-plus times?

    • Do it over and over again until you hate it? Until you can’t stand to read it. Something like that. Also, when proofreading, it’s a good idea to edit it from the end and move towards the beginning. Oh, and read it aloud. It helps.

      • Tough question. It takes everything, from the cover to the blurb to the content itself. Generating interest is also about self-promotion, making other readers interested in the process itself, like letting them choose the cover from a number of options, writing posts about your creative process, stuff like that.

        Also, you can send the book to as many book reviewers as possible. Do a virtual book tour. Stuff like that.

  2. Thanks for the tip Cristian. Sometimes no matter what we do words try to come while we write. It’s so awesome and adds quality to the phrase but we know that it’s not needed. I hope you might have come across it at some point. What your take in such a situation ?

  3. I think this is an interesting topic.

    A friend, who is non-native in English, would often ask me to review small parts of his work, and I would cut down a lot of repetition. Now, his English wasn’t bad, and I think this was very much in tune with the point of this article.

    However, I also feel there is a positive flip to this, much like visual art; we can paint simply, or in great detail, and neither are diminished because of this – it all about the execution.

    I personally like to write in detail, but descriptive detail, and this is because my inspiration comes from Gothic Fiction:

    “She was slender, and wonderfully graceful. Except that her movements
    were languid–very languid–indeed, there was nothing in her appearance
    to indicate an invalid. Her complexion was rich and brilliant; her
    features were small and beautifully formed; her eyes large, dark, and
    lustrous; her hair was quite wonderful, I never saw hair so
    magnificently thick and long when it was down about her shoulders; I
    have often placed my hands under it, and laughed with wonder at its
    weight.” – Carmilla, Sheridan Le Fanu.

    The above still reads wonderfully well in my opinion, but how simple is it? I would certainly consider it criminal to cut anything out of this wonderful word-craft, and yet it does not bore me, in fact, it excites me to read this style.

    Perhaps it is just a case of a little common sense, after all, the only thing that should be black and white is the text on paper.

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