Useless Words to not Write
Feeling insecure today.
Do you think it’s easy to write a novel or short story?
I’ve finished a short story titled Kindness. I think it’s a good one and need to get it ready to send to my publisher, editor, or submit to the market. So, how do I make this thing ‘slickern goose grease’ and impress folks? Let’s look at some guidelines.
Looking at published criteria I can’t use really or very. So, I can’t write, “You’re a very pretty girl.” Or, if the guy (I’m assuming here) is really gob smacked, “You’re a really, really, very pretty girl.” So, I guess that leaves, “You pretty. Or, you ugly.” Short, but to the point.
We can’t use that, just, then or any instance of those (that them). Lessee, take away the ending ‘that’, then that leaves me with ending the sentence with a preposition (of), and I’ve already qualified the sentence using ‘that’ again. And ‘then’. Aw, man! I used ‘then’. And an exclamation point! Oh, God. I can’t do that.
Now we’re into the ‘ly’ words. It’s a death knell to your work if you use totally, completely, absolutely, literally, definitely, certainly, probably, actually, basically or virtually.
I cannot convey the amount of vilification heaped upon your psyche if you use start, begin, began, begun, rather, quite, somewhat, or somehow.
Neither may I use said, replied, asked, or use any dialogue tag at all, unless I ask someone’s permission.
I don’t know who. They won’t tell me.
Think that’s hard? We can’t look down, or up. Or, wonder, ponder, think, thought, feel, felt, understand or realize.
I’d grab my chest, but I can’t describe it by using breath, breathe, inhale or exhale. I can’t shrug, nod or reach. I can’t use long sentences tied together by ands, buts, or frog legs. (I’m a writer—I can tie in the frog legs.) Hell, I can’t use a non-approved font.
How on earth, or any place else, do I write a story?
I haven’t sold a ton of books. Since I write in the western genre, I thought I’d check Louis L’Amour’s stories. He’s sold millions. Just as I thought, most of those monumental mistakes are there. It’s the same for most of the beautifully descriptive prose writing western authors I’ve read.
As an experiment I started grabbing books off my shelves in all genres—books written by successful authors. When I opened a random page, I found the mistakes listed above. Not all at once. Gimme a break, here. So, if they’d done it right, would their book have sold two million instead of one?
So, why do the experts want new and fledgling writer’s submissions to look like a blank page—dry of wit and empty of beauty? Pretty girls, but never very pretty girls? Or, exceptionally pretty girls. Maybe just “damn, you nice!” is better.
When I ask about this, I’m told, “Well, you’re no Louis L’Amour.” This is very, very true. Like, really true. Absolutely true.
But then, I’m betting he was never pushed to turn in a blank page, or something so devoid of feeling it looks like the Klingon version of the users manual to the Starship Enterprise.
I’ll just keep muddling along and do the best I can. Even if I use euphemisms and attention grabbing qualifiers… and go broke. Can’t afford to be a writer anyway. The conferences alone bust my budget.
One thing I do know. For every published writer, there are at least two experts telling them how to do it.
Maybe some of them are correct. Surely, (snicker) they have our best interests at heart.
And don’t start throwing your degrees in English at me. I made a D in high school English. My teacher cried a lot, but was quick to tell me it wasn’t my fault.
I’ll keep writing. I must. Life goes on.
Assignment: levity. Look it up. We need more.
A Troubled Nation ©
By Darrel Sparkman
This opinion piece is my own and does not reflect the opinion of anyone else including those I work for, am associated with, or related to.
I read a post on Facebook today where someone was lamenting the loss of a friend of over 40 years. Because of politics. Were they really a friend? Are the feelings that deep? Will they come back? Should they let them?
We are a nation divided.
We are standing at the cusp of that division. Not only do I see it on social media, I actually speak to people. You know… like, away from the computer.
I have friends on the left who are rabid liberals and in their progressive mindset are sure they know what is best for the unwashed deplorable people on the right. Or, flyover country.
Friends on the far right talk armed rebellion if things don’t go their way. Not kidding. Don’t take that lightly.
The rest of us are puttering around in the middle of all that.
For most Americans, there is no straddling the fence on this one. This great melting pot of cultures is about to boil over. Past presidents managed the melding of that pot through immigration law. No more. Personally, I can see another civil war looming on the horizon if things don’t change. States seceding from the Union, while legal under the constitution, will not solve it.
So, what’s the problem?
When I look at the world, all I see is chaos. The U.N is watching because they’re afraid the money train is about to stop. European socialism is a shambles and wants a bail out. Germany was about the only country in Europe with any money, but surrounding European Union countries are bleeding it dry—not to mention the immigrants. Countries embracing the theocracy of Islam are fighting everywhere. Democratic Socialist countries like Russia and Communist China are in turmoil.
Where do we look for leadership?
Let’s forget the democrat/republican terminology for a moment. In most cases, there’s no difference between the two. There are two sides in this country—Progressives and Conservatives. With, of course, shades of grey in each. Watch what they do—not what they say.
The progressive mindset looks to big government for everything. Big government is smarter than you and has all the answers. Got a problem? Make a law. Big brother will take care of you. This is on top of polling across both parties that put our confidence level for gov/congress/state/federal in the low twenty percentile. That’s whom we put our trust?
Conservatives believe in a much smaller government footprint, especially on our backs. If they have a problem it’s up to them to fix it. Personal responsibility.
This isn’t new.
It’s been that way since 1776. After all, only about 15% fought for independence.
When our government is so corrupt even the most casual observer can see it, something is wrong. We have a justice department that is dirty. The FBI is dirty and agents are leaving in droves. Have you noticed that when the government investigates itself, it can find no wrong?
Trust in God?
Yes and no. Oh, I’ll take flack for that one. I’ll post this after I go to church. I pray for this country every day. I know many people do. But, half of the people in this country don’t believe in God, or any other deity. And, they vote too. For those that believe in nothing, they are their own God. If, from what I see in other countries and in our own, this is God’s will—we’re in for a long day.
John Kennedy was a flawed man, but still a good one.
Still… what to do?
My two cents.
We need to take care of America first. It’s all well and good to try to take care of every bad thing in the world, but not while our own country is floundering. We can’t help others if we can’t help ourselves. We can’t give aid and monies to countries that have more money than we do, just for political favors. We cannot police a world that does not want it. We cannot feed starving children—bad as that sounds—while our own poor are undernourished or hungry. We cannot take in a million refugees while our citizens are suffering. It’s wrong. We’re going broke trying to do it.
I realize nationalism has been made into a bad word. Guess who's leading that charge. Well, globalism isn’t so hot either. There has to be some homefolkism in there somewhere.
For a protracted amount of time, we need to take care of us and our nation. Fix our problems. All of us together. Then, we can go forth.
We have choices.
I’m conservative. That’s obvious. I have a couple of ‘hot button’ items that decide how I vote. No, I won’t tell you. They’re my buttons, not yours. Vote your own buttons.
For as much as we think our vote doesn’t count, it does. Each one. The choices this cycle are not good ones. We have to vote for our future and our children’s future. With that in mind, there are only two choices. If we split the vote with third party, then it’s watering down the vote. And we have to vote in numbers to counter all the dead people that are voting. That was levity. Look it up.
A founding father once said:
"When the people find they can vote themselves money,
that will herald the end of the republic." Benjamin Franklin
We are at war with ourselves.
So vote your conscience.
Where do you want the country to go and how do we get there? Put hatred aside and vote with your brain.
Do we go with corruption or drain the swamp?
And no, that’s not an endorsement for the Donald. I’m like most Americans who believe we should fire them all and start over. We can begin that process by voting. No Wednesday morning quarterbacking or hand-wringing. Whatever the outcome—make it work. If you oppose the outcome, do it peacefully!
We are divided. My friends are divided. My family is divided. Vote for the path you think will bring us together.
If you’re somewhere in the middle, think of your country.
If your vote is socialism, go for it.
If your vote is conservatism, go for it.
But, go for it.