The idiom “the devil is in the details” expresses the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important. Unfortunately, when we are drafting the first time, those details may be fuzzy, indistinct, or vague. The creative process is messy at best. The true craft of writing doesn’t take form until the rewriting stage. Or as James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
This week let’s talk about word choice or diction. For a piece of writing to come alive in the reader, the writer must use words that are concrete and active in communicating their message. The first step is getting rid of those words that the brain throws out simply because it’s natural. The brain loves patterns and especially repetition so the more frequently a word has passed through its memory banks the more often it will pop up in your writing.
Not a good thing. As writers, we all have unique lists of words that pop up in our writing but it takes someone else usually to point them out to us. Our brain’s don’t recognize them. Other words are frequently overused by all of us. An example is “that”. Roughly 95% of the times we use it, it is not necessary.
Other examples are: very, so, seemed and other qualifiers.
When you sit down to revise, you need to be aware of those word which may be clouding your prose. You’ll find a list of common words to look for (I call them R.I.P for rest in peace) in Angel. Use this to help you find the chaff in your prose. Make sure that all of the words in your piece count.