Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boring Writing

Sometimes, what we write can be boring. We get the facts down, the action of the scene as well as the details, but still…something is lacking. Zip. Zest. Interest!

Consider the writing sample below. While technically correct and containing no passive "to be" verbs like was or were, no excess of adverbs, etc., it lacks interest in style and tone. Rather bland. (I can say this because it's my own writing and not someone else's. LOL)

WRITING SAMPLE:

On his way to the library, Rick walked past the playground. He didn't really want to see all the little kids having fun on the play equipment, because it made him feel worse about his argument with Dad. A few smiling parents sat, chatting to each other on benches. One woman pushed a squealing girl in pigtails on a swing. Other kids ran around, darting and chasing, laughing and giggling. Rick watched one freckled girl wave to her friends with excited enthusiasm and then climb to the top of the slide. A boy threw a ball to another boy and missed. The ball bounced over to Rick. With a sigh, Rick picked it up and tossed it back, wishing he'd gone the long way around the block.

Then, consider this rewrite. Whether the style resonates with you or not, it's probably far more compelling of a read.

REWRITE:

On his way to the library, Rick trudged past the playground. Dad's angry words echoed in his head, clashing with the cheerful riot of motion and sound by the play equipment. You have to grow up, son, Dad had told him. Stop acting like a child. Rick's eyes slid against their will to the relaxed smiles of parents chatting on benches. Unwanted shouts of delight and laughter careened into his ears. One woman pushed a girl on a swing, sending squeals and a pair of pigtails flying high into the air, while a freckled girl waved like a prom queen to her friends before climbing to the top of the slide. A boy threw a ball to another boy and missed. The ball skidded over to Rick. With a sigh, Rick picked it up and tossed it back, wishing he'd gone the long way around the block.

Not only are there more details and information about Rick's argument with Dad, there is more to the scene than a mere newspaper-like reporting of facts. It contains more emotion. The scene is filtered through the main character's eyes, showing how he is interacting with his environment, processing the details, and reacting. Even tiny nuances can be utilized. For instance--keeping Rick's argument with his dad in mind--did you notice how the two cameos of the little girls were positive, and yet the two boys threw and missed catching the ball?

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