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28

Further to Mark Baker's excellent answer: If you want your writing to be more colorful, practice observing and recording colorful things. I don't necessary mean literal color, although that's not a bad thing either, but to take regular, scheduled time to observe people, actions, sensations, scenery, feelings, sounds, smells, et cetera and then write them ...


17

Precision is not the opposite of simplicity or clarity. As you mentioned, Hemmingway is known for his amazing precision, for spending a long time on single sentences. I read The Old Man and The Sea in high school, but I could easily have read it four years earlier. I would have missed the symbolism, but I would have understood the literal events. The most ...


11

You should try rotating several different ways to start a paragraph: none of them is bad, but overusing any of them is as bad as sticking with your current approach. Besides the "character did X" and "doing X, character did Y" structures already considered, you can: Pose a question that occurred to the character Describe the environment Think like the ...


10

There's a lot to unpack here, at least if someone like me tries to post an answer, because I only half-agree with aims such as those of the Hemingway app. Also, some of what you say brings in additional issues. the app pushes simplicity and the lowest possible reading level. Where I live, an illiterate person is defined as any person who reads below a ...


10

You are right in thinking both that details are needed - they make the scene come alive, and that the details shouldn't be random. I use the scenery details first and foremost to set the mood of a scene. You use a meeting in a forest as an example. Is your character comfortable in the forest? Does she know it well, is it a safe environment for her? Then she ...


7

Rhyming in prose is neither inherently bad nor inherently good. If the rhyming in some way adds to the story, then it's a good use. If the rhyming distracts the reader such that it detracts from the story, then it's not a good use. As with other literary devices, used in moderation and with intention, rhyming can be used to give import to a particular ...


7

I would offer that repetition of wording is less important than making sure every word pushes the story forward. It's not that the words are repetitive, it's that they're not doing anything for the story. The words as you have them exist as instructional text to the reader about how to read a conversation between two people. People know how to do this ...


7

You can skip the "Colin smiled." line, and just imply it, using the tag. "I'm sure the other patients will appreciate that as well," Colin said, pleased. "You been to the children's ward yet?" Some of these actions can be left off, or expanded, or put into the dialogue. Instead of Colin nodded (in agreement to Electron's "...


7

Write for your audience. There are certainly many audiences who might not have the literacy level (or education) to do well or want books written at a upper secondary school level or higher education level. Age is the obvious constraint but there are also groups of people who just got through high school (or not) and want to read fiction for pleasure but ...


6

There are multiple hints of dictatorial times within the English language. For example, have you noticed how farm animals have Anglo-Saxon names (calf, cow, lamb, pig), whereas meat derived from the same animals has French-derived names (veal, beef, mutton, pork)? That dates back to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon farmers raised the animals, while the ...


6

I'd reject the advice to write to a sixth grade level, unless you are writing for kids or young-adults. I've seen the stats on reading levels in the USA somewhere; they must be online. But as I recall, writing should be at about the 11th grade level. For one, in Hemingway's time, education levels were lower and reading was a much more widespread ...


6

You need to be precise, clear and uncomplicated. When writing fiction, you want your text to have all the depths and layers you can add to it without forcing your reader to stop and think too much since that will end suspension of disbelief. Think reading trance. You want them to be in one if there's going to be any page turning during the early morning ...


6

I am reminded of a recent question about C.S. Lewis' and E.B. White's use of vocabulary. The answer I gave there touches on this question as well. One feature of the English vocabulary is that on top of the stock of words that have their root in Anglo-Saxon, English also has an extensive vocabulary that was derived from Latin and Greek words, especially for ...


6

I had a friend a few years back who had a very similar issue. The advice I gave him was to focus less on what is happening, and more on how it is happening and the feelings around that. Perspective changes are a huge help with this. The issue you are having is really prevalent with a third-person, omniscient or semi omniscient perspective. You are telling ...


5

Are rhymes bad in prose? Sometimes yes, it depends on the prose and the rhyme and how it's used. Poetic devices like rhyming and alliteration can be used in prose but it's not at all easy to do well. The rhymes here, "together" and "forever" are noticeable, and I think they do the piece a disservice. I'd simply remove the last two words. I disagree with ...


5

I am a similar Engineer type, and I have recently found out about pretty simple writing tools. Or, at least people told me they were elementary. The texture of your content is very important, and there are elements beyond the vocabulary that make writing more beautiful. Key components of the "texture" I believe you are looking for include the variance of ...


5

Personally, I would break it after Mr. Houston finishes speaking (your first example). This way, the first paragraph is about what Mr. Houston said, and the second paragraph is about the speaker's response, both in his thoughts and out loud. He nodded. "Thank you for returning the bicycle. You see it was my son's and he would love to ride it one more ...


5

It's perfectly acceptable and there are published children's books that mix rhyme and prose. However, the switch between prose and rhyme can be jarring if you don't mentally prepare the reader for the switch by formatting the work in a way that readies them for what's to come. Your dialogue example doesn't rhyme (I'm a bit confused by that) so forgive me ...


5

I've always struggled with sensory details in my writing --I'm a dialog-and-plot kind of writer. But for me, writing details really came alive when I discovered your number three approach. When done right, the details offer you so much opportunity for layered, immersive storytelling. Perfunctory, by-the-book, generic "filler" details definitely aren't ...


4

Rather than designing the dialogue, you just need to make sure you have a really good grasp of the different characters - this task isn't really about how funny you consider yourself to be, it's about the characters' personalities. The dialogue can then be done in a step by step fashion - so something happened, who's going to be first to comment on it, and ...


3

Research soundbites. Someone who claims to write "the art of the soundbite" has invented a system he calls A BEACH PRO: The system is called A BEACH PRO, which is an acronym that stands for analogy, bold action words, emotions, examples, attacks, absolutes, clich├ęs, humor, pop culture references, rhetorical questions and opposition quotes. Nearly ...


3

Depends on what purpose you're trying to achieve. If you're exploring one particular character and intend to experiment with viewing things through the lens of another person, first-person POV or third-person closed. Third person omnipresent comes from a story where there's less focus on one character and more on an ensemble, and the tension doesn't come ...


3

You might have to give up on a few words and re-arrange things. For example: "It's a pleasure to be here," Electron replied with a smile. You also can omit "X said" a lot of times. A new paragraph indicates a change in speaker, and when there are only two it can be clear. Once every three or four quotes you can clarify who is talking. &...


3

First of all, congratulations. That's an interesting piece of prose. Secondly, yeah, rhyme can improve the quality of prose, because it gives it a sense of finality and emphasis. However, this must be kept as minimal as possible and only used whenever necessary. It will come out best if it seems unintended, as if the words just happened to rhyme, without ...


3

I run into this problem often. My biggest help though, is to describe what the character is doing, and then name them at the end of the action. Say this happened. Thinking this over and scratching his forehead, Colin hesitated to answer. "So?" Leaning forward in his seat, Electron impatiently awaited Colin's answer.


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