Friday, June 03, 2011

Avoiding the Agent's Wastebasket

This is a simple tip for your writing, one that can keep you from the crash and burn pile of an agent/editors desk.

Read the following paragraph and tell me what's wrong.

It seemed like a good plan, a solid plan, one that would solve a lot of problems. But I wasn't entirely sure it would work, even though it was my plan. The others were not supportive, downright nasty in pointing out the possible problems with the plan I'd put forth. The real problem though wasn't that it was a bad plan, but that it wasn't any of their plans.

Do you see the . . uh . . problem with this paragraph?

It seemed like a good plan, a solid plan, one that would solve a lot of problems. But I wasn't entirely sure it would work, even though it was my plan. The others were not supportive, downright nasty in pointing out the possible problems with the plan I'd put forth. The real problem though wasn't that it was a bad plan, but that it wasn't any of their plans.


This of course is a very obvious issue I've highlighted here, but doubling up on your words can get away from you without you even realizing it. And don't just think that it's about doubling up on your words only in a single paragraph. I try to make sure that a specific word/words don't show up more than once a page if I can help it. When you double up on words it looks as though you don't have a vocabulary which is very bad if you're supposed to be a writer. (have you noticed my use of the word double?)

And for pity's sake, don't send your ms to an agent with this weakness (note I did not use problem) on the first page, that is unless you want an immediate launch of your precious baby into the wastebasket.

4 comments:

LM Preston said...

Thanks for sharing this. Editing is not always a natural art.

Jacquelyn Wheeler said...

I've been using the Word Frequency Counter to spot duplicates. So helpful! http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp

JEFritz said...

Very important advice. I'll be sure to remember this the next time I'm editing.

Sarah said...

I always point this out when I'm beta-reading, because I think it's often difficult for the writer to see it. It's particularly common with dialogue tags and other verbs, I've found.