Sunday, January 29, 2012


Can't never could do anything. I've used that word a lot, but we need to erase it from our vocabulary.

I've said before that I couldn't write long books. I just can't write that many words. That is why I am best at writing picture books.

Today I was going through one of my piles of books in the doorway between our family and  living room. I pulled out one on writing and decided to glance through it once again. I came upon this chapter titled, Details Are What Make a Book Memorable.

It states that the filling in of details can be the difference in selling a book and one that won't catch the editor's eyes. You can overdo it, but more folks leave out the details than overwrite them.

I fit into that category. But, I admit I have read a few books where they go overboard on the descriptions, especially when they start describing the features of people, it just makes me roll my eyes and grin.

They gave examples in the book of good descriptive paragraphs. I decided to take can't out of my vocabulary and pull out my manuscript that I am editing for the umpteenth time and see what I could do with it. This manuscript is one that I am currently calling a novella, it is just shy of 30,000 words, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I am the one that loves to write picture books with less than 500 words.

It's working. After going through two of the chapters, I have added almost 500 words (that is the size of an entire picture book)! I know that is a drop in the bucket, but at least I am adding and I am making it more descriptive.

Give it a try. Check your manuscript for generic words and bland scenery and ordinary people. Use words to paint a picture in the minds of your readers and use as many senses as possible in your writing.

And most of all, start your manuscript with a hook! They have to be pulled into your story in order to read those wonderful descriptive paragraphs you have created. Make your first sentences unique. More on that in another post.


  1. Enjoyed reading this, Janet. We all have certain words that just don't work in our writing. I'm still combing and honing out words. I use that too much. And I'm learning that I do not need he said, she said so much. Just drop them. I tend to start sentences with AND and BUT. I need to work on those.
    The recent workshop I went on by Jane Porter hit on some of those very things.
    We want to make our writing PUNCHY and MEMORABLE.
    When I learn how to do that I'll let you know.

  2. Good for you. Sounds like you're on the right track. And I agree that opening hook is absolutely mandatory.

  3. You're moving in the right direction. Other culprits for skipping details are 'it' and all versions of 'thing'. When you find those, see which ones you can replace with real words instead of those placeholders.

  4. Janet,
    Thanks for the fantastic advise. You always give great ideas for writing. I need to pull out some of my old stories and edit them using your writer tips.
    I love your header and the new look to your blog. It looks really good.

  5. Janet, I love the description and detail part and have to be careful and not over do it. I have written a novel over 140,000 words. I need to cut it down, but it's difficult for me because I believe that every word in it needs to be said to make the story complete.

    Enjoyed my visit. Drop over to the Writing Nook when you have time.



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