Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yesterday I posted on a blog and used the term "replicate it again." I talked about writing a scene that was really fun and then when I tried to "replicate it again," write the same kind of thing again in a different situation, it had no life at all. Much writing is spontaneous.

Anyway, when I reread that post, I was struck by its wordiness. If I "replicate" something, obviously I am making it again. The word says all it needs to say. It stands on its own.

And so does the word, "Anyway." That's one of my short cuts to go from one topic to another without seeming to have done so. I overuse that word too.

When I was in high school I worked in a print shop. It was owned by a man who had been a newspaper editor and a journalism teacher. One time I showed him some of my writing, and he just circled all the unnecessary "that's." He said, "Folks who pay by the word aren't going to want to buy what you write."

I dedicated The Body in the Record Room to that man, Larry Ferguson. I still thank God for him.

I most enjoy reading clear concise writing. I read all kinds of mystery novels, complex ones and simple ones, but I prefer the simple ones. I like to be able to read right through.

Sometimes I am taken by the long complicated sentences of a truly excellent writer (say Batya Gur), but overall I much prefer the clear business-like writing of Ed McBain.

So from now on, I'll try not to write terms like "replicate it again."

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