Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing : Vague

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

V is for Vague

One of the problems we have as writers is not adequately describing things. By things I mean setting, emotion, clothing, food, action, etc. We can see it all in our head, but it's difficult to use enough words to get all that on the page. So we tend to be vague. In some cases, the reader will fill in the gaps but in others, what is missing can mean the difference between a scene that a reader skims through and one they an highly engaged in.

Watch for:

• Leaning on adverbs. They often don't give us a clear image of the action and would be better served as a stronger verb instead.

• Words like 'a few' 'some' 'very' 'a couple' 'often' 'sometimes'. These all have appropriate uses, but ask yourself if a more definite description would be better suited to convey what you are trying to show.

• Rooms/places and people without anything to distinguish them. It's hard for a reader to get a visual to attach them to the scene if all we have is Sue running into the living room.

• Not committing to the full emotion of a scene. You're going for a tone or mood, but is it conveyed clear enough that the reader feels it too?

• A character has big feelings about something but do we have enough background and description at to why? The same for their motivations. "Because I said so" doesn't work well between writers and readers. These are things we need to show in the context of the story.

All of these are good points to ask your critique partners and beta readers to watch for because some of them are hard to spot yourself. You know your story too well.

Are there any particular aspects of writing that you find yourself being too vague about?

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  1. Yeah, this is a hard one. Sometimes I don't think I've given enough description of some people, and then I'm not sure how much I need to give. And it can be hard to determine how overused adverbs can be.

  2. Hi Jean - gosh wittering on ... that's vague! But agree ... we need to learn how to express ourselves succinctly ... and not waffle - cheers Hilary

  3. sometimes there is perhaps too much detail but good writing is to balance it all out, right?

    I think writing the description of a person especially their face is pretty hard to me. I often read books where face descriptions just sounds vague even with all the sizing and hues. it's when they describe unattractive or ugly people that's easy to picture. I wonder if that's just me.

    have a lovely day.


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