I’ve been reading a LOT of manuscripts lately, both submissions and from my clients. I’ve noticed a common weakness in writing that is easily remedied. If you want to describe something, just describe it. You don’t have to have your character’s “gaze fall upon” whatever you want to describe. They don’t need to “all of a sudden notice” it. It doesn’t have to “catch their attention.” Believe it or not, I’ve read those exact words in about five different manuscripts this week. Five! The EXACT same words!
Same goes for pondering and thinking. She pondered this. He pondered that. He couldn’t help but think… She thought to herself that… STOP! Most of the time you can just say what it is, without it being your character’s thought. Go ahead, take a look at your manuscript. I’ll wait here…
See? That didn’t take too long. I’m right, aren’t I?! Most of the time you CAN just say whatever you need to say without your character “wondering,” “supposing,” “reflecting” or “musing.”
Now, last pet peeve: When you want your character to move through a scene, or a room, or a task, you do NOT need to tell us every single thing that they do. Unless it makes a difference to the story, of course. I mean, it’s just not important to let us know that, for instance, Meghan got up from her chair, crossed the room, noticed that she needed to vacuum the carpet, and went into the kitchen to make herself some coffee. You could just say, “Meghan went to the kitchen and made herself some coffee.” We would surmise that in order to do that she’d have to get out of the chair and cross the room. And if the un-vacuumed floor isn’t relevant to anything, please don’t include it.
How many of you writers out there are guilty of these faux pas?