This is it. Day 30 of NaNoWriMo.
I'm tinkering with my story right now. Not so much editing or adding anything, but I am fixing what is already there. I don't see any point of inserting things until I have a clear picture of what I want to say and the direction I want it to go in. It is a real rough draft.
I am working on adverbs today. Especially the -ly. I'm going to remove as many of them as I can.
Steven King wrote something that I've been trying to tell people for years. Of course he says it better than I ever could:
One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones...Make yourself a solem promise right now that you'll never use "emolument" when you mean "tip" and you'll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit.
People think they are doing something when their Flesch Reading score is 12th grade level. If you are writing a Chemestry Textbook then perhaps that is an awesome achievement, but if you are writing a novel, even an epic literary masteripiece, it is not necessary to be so haughty.
I have always said, if you can explain something complicated to a 4 year old and they understand, then you have mastered language.
I hate having to pull out Webster when I read a book. A few words here and there are fine, it builds vocabulary, but when every other word is 15 letters long, I get fustrated and put the book down.
Both of my projects: No Reservations and my untitled memoir are around the Third Grade reading level. I am proud of this. Not that I'd want an 8 year old to read the subject matter, but it isn't something so complicated that you have to read one sentence seven times to understand what I'm saying and probably get it wrong anyway.
I did a little expirement. I started removing the -ly from my manuscript. I only got to page 78 (out of 154) and decided to check something. Only being 1/2 way through I wanted to see how many adverbs I removed:
really 67 first draft 59 second draft
quickly 39 first draft 17 second draft
probably 21 first draft 15 second draft
slowly 16 first draft 12 second draft
softly 20 first draft 14 second draft
angrily 5 first draft 2 second draft
loudly 7 first draft 4 second draft
silently 5 first draft 3 second draft
Then I checked the readability statistics. I still have 2% passive voice, which I would like to get down to 1%, but don't know because of the backstory. I started with a reading ease of 90.6 and now it is up to 90.9. I suppose the removal of the -ly's made the difference. And it has moved from a 3.1 grade level to a 3.0 grade level.
I have just finished taking out all unecessary -ly words and I now have a reading ease of 91.5 and a 2.9 grade level.
You might say...so what. But I find it very telling. Small changes can make your writing more readable.
OK I'm done with -ly, now to work on -ness.
I leave the abstracts and complicated meanings to my poetry.
* * *
My rewrite of Letters. I changed the last few lines, trying to give it a more powerful feel:
Letters from the earth reveal the sound of tragedy,
listen to the cries of the bones that nourish her,
they lie deep within her womb.
These bones are angry.
Flowers grow teeth and leaves weep
on the tree as the roots take hold
and wrap themselves around the forgotten remains
of servitude and slaughter.
These bones recede
with rage into black earth
as thick lava blood blanketsand burns them to ash.