Keeping the Distance

Scott Nicholson says in Seven Bad Habits of Unsuccessful Writers:

Newer writers tend to rely on “He saw,” “He felt,” “He smelled,” “He tasted,” or “He heard” instead of just letting the actions or sensations occur. It shows a lack of confidence. If you have done a good job of securing your character viewpoint, then when that stack of dishes clatters to the ground, the reader knows who hears the smash.

So, of course, I perused through the rough draft of one of my unpublished novels, and it didn’t take long to see how I had violated this advice:

Before

Quinn and Esh meandered along the beach, following the bend and curve of the shore. In the distance, Quinn could see various buildings, most of them dark red and orange, sprinkled with dots of light as the evening approached. Quinn stopped. He could see movement around the dwellings.

“Aliens.”

After

Quinn and Esh meandered along the beach, following the bend and curve of the shore. In the distance, buildings, most of them dark red and orange, sat in a cove. Dots of lights sprinkled them as evening approached. Quinn stopped. Dark figures moved around the dwellings like ants on their hill.

“Aliens.”

Practicing the principle of “keeping the distance” will improve your writing style.

Related article:

Are These Filter Words Weakening Your Fiction?


View my Consortium SF Series at Amazon.

 

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