Daily Archives: September 2, 2011

“Slightly” and Other Topics

The power I feel when I pick up a pen is incomparable. The simplicity of pen and ink has brought nations to heel and toppled kings. Words have power.

When I pick up a pen to write, for a moment I feel connected to that power. Sometimes when I go back to revise, I think that power blew a fuse.

In the writing of my second draft, I have come across several little foibles and idiosyncrasies that befell my vomit draft. I suppose that’s why it’s called a vomit draft. (Technical term.) One of the most far-reaching and intrepid of these is the adverb. To be specific, the word “slightly.”

I’m not sure why that particular word has been so insidious in my story. And yet there it is, hiding behind compound verbs and sneaking around in front of adjectives. As I rewrite, I’m hacking at them with a scythe every time they crop up.

“Aaaaah!” My brain screeches every time a new one appears. “Go away! You’re not welcome in the second draft!”

It’s like weevils in multigrain bread. You might think it looks fine and dandy until you get an unwelcome crunch that wormed its way into your food. So here I am, picking out the “slightly” weevils and filled with dismay.

In spite of the small army of obnoxious adverbs peppering my vomit draft, most of it still does what it’s supposed to. That pen channeled whatever force it uses into building a world.

Most of the time when I pick up a pen, I’m not vying for world domination. I’m striving to forge a connection. I’m trying to send sweeping tendrils of creeping words into someone’s psyche, searching until they kindle that spark that makes fingers turn pages into the wee hours of the morning.

I want to take my characters from the bare bones of basic structure and add sinew, muscle, layers of fat, and skin. Flesh and blood and beating heart. I want to tie them with bonds of paper and  ink to readers hearts so that when my paper-crafted people laugh, readers laugh. When the characters hurt, readers feel it. So readers can feel that my ink flows through the veins of my characters, pumped by their paper hearts.

That is the power of pen and ink. Halfway done with my second draft, I can feel it crackling. It’s up to my little network of readers to help me make it sizzle.

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