Confessions of a Dirty Blonde :: Pint-sized words can go

Most writers focus on clarity with their nouns and verbs, but allow the rest of their sentences to clutter their work. The details become big problems, and using multiple words when one, clear word would work confuses readers. As you’re editing, be sure to look for pint-sized words causing gallons of problems.

Streamlining your words isn’t difficult, if you know where to look. Common phrases we use in conversation use more words than necessary are bloated, but we keep them because they’re comfortable. We need to clear it up. All of it.

If you don’t, the reader spends more time navigating than hearing your message. Be clear, concise and confident: qualities magnetic to them.

So where can you find these orgies in your writing? Prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Prepositions identify relationships between words. They detail space (over, through, under, between, above, across, by, on), and time (until, before, since, during, after). Prepositional phrases use more words to indicate where or when something happens.

Let’s play.

Example: We walked in the direction of the sun, covering our eyes from the blinding rays.

Problem: The sentence stands, but it could be clearer. The prepositional phrase “in the direction of” could be removed and rewritten with fewer words.

Solution: We walked in the direction of toward the sun, covering our eyes from the blinding rays.

I replaced five words with one and the message is intact, easier for the reader to find.

Example: I heard children laughing, their guts exploding with joy, on the other side of the street.

Where’s the prepositional phrase? “on the other side of”

Better modification: Across.

“I heard children laughing, their guts exploding with joy, across the street.

While it might seem a tiny problem now, imagine this on a larger scale: a complex sentence detailing setting. Or an entire book without editing prepositions for clarity. Riddled with words that don’t tell your story.

Google a list of prepositions, print it out and leave it by your desk. When you begin editing, you’ll have easy access to substitutable words for unnecessary phrases.

The best part of editing your own work before submitting to an editor is these easy fixes won’t be where they’re looking. More bang for your buck, and – let’s be honest – that’s what we all want, isn’t it?


Got writing questions for Capo? Email Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.

Confessions of a Dirty Blonde :: Forever is a good word

When I’m sitting in front of my laptop and the words won’t come, I try to remember the things my writing coach told me. Funny how we strangle our minds enough that the helpful bits get lost in the chaos of our fear and frustration.

When I was in Write Raw – a rookie in the book writing world – I tried to take notes during the hour-long sessions with Beck. My laptop was covered in Post-It notes, positivity and performance tips scribbled everywhere.

The problem? I take notes like my students did, and they’re hard to comprehend after the fact.

Once I was far enough away from the program, I lost the meaning of all those notes. I progressed through my manuscript trying to recall everything she said and believing a tiny note held answers I needed.

I think this is a problem for writers in general, though I must say part of it stems from my lackluster note-taking.

One of the things we do around here when we aren’t kicking asses and taking names is try to better our programs. Weekly brainstorming sessions and late-night Beckster emails happen on the regs. And for the most part, my husband doesn’t mind (unless, of course, he wants my late nights).

Sometimes through these sessions, we come up with ideas to improve already standing programs. Sometimes inspiration takes us new places. It’s always an exciting day when we can announce a new program. So let’s make new magic happen.

The Write Now Sessions is a new 6-week program at Signup for online access to coaching videos and handouts, AND real time with Beck. The key: Long after your time with Becky is through, you can play and replay those videos whenever and wherever you want. (This is très, très better than banging your head against the keyboard while trying to decipher a long forgotten Post-It.)

When you finish your first book? You’ll still be able to go back through the program. Over and over again. And your sessions never expire. You get access for life. Forever and ever and always. Because forever is a good word. The end.

You’ll have access to some of the same tips and tricks given out to Write Raw and Summer Writing Camp students, and you’ll be able to take them in at your own pace – when you have the time. It kills the “I can’t make my schedule work around coaching sessions” excuse.

But that’s not the best part.

If you pre-order, you’re only paying $297, murdering the “I can’t afford it” excuse.

With nothing left to stop you, will you come up with a new excuse – or signup?

Get your ass in the chair and the words out of your beautiful head. It’s time (and nearly $1,500 less expensive than working privately with Becky).

Don’t wait too long to make the decision though. The price is a perk for jumping on board now. It nearly doubles to $497 soon.

The Write Now Sessions will be released November 1, 2014. On that day, access to all course materials will be emailed to those who have purchased.


Got writing questions for Capo? Email Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.