Specificity

Albert Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and I agree– to an extent.  A morsel of knowledge can grant your imagination and writing a hearty jolt of ingenuity, which I think is the goal of most writers.  A fresh, ingenious manuscript destined to grace bestseller lists across the country, yes?  Hmmm…  How about settling for a vivid, crackerjack of a story, which (at the very least) heaves with potential in the hands of a literary agent?  At this point, I would be tickled with the later. 

My progress?  I axed my old beginning in the name of “begin in action” and started to work on the updated opener.  If I’m going to repeat this process, then I’m going to get it right this time, so I pulled out a guide called The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and tightened my maternity drawstring shorts.  Now, I started to work through his book a short while back, but I must admit that my efforts were not whole-hearted and I only completed some of the end-of-chapter exercises.  (Bad writer!  Bad!)  This time, I’m ferociously determined to get the results I want.  I want to kick ass.  Period.

I completed four exercises today, which took more time than I expected, but was definitely worth the effort.  I took the first few pages of my manuscript and removed every adjective and adverb, then replaced the commonplace words with crisp ones.  After that, I did the same for every noun and verb.  Completing this process made me realize how easy it is to use adjectives and adverbs to hoist ordinary words instead of searching for the specific.  For instance, I used “gently” three times within three pages and not one time did “gently” convey my intended meaning.  I also used “nodded” and “studied” both twice.  Blah. 

For further reference (and inspiration), I opened a book by Christopher Moore and read a few random pages, scoping out his use of a & a & n & v.  Within three pages, he described an orchid as “lavender dragonflies humping”, the waves of the sea as “elitist”, and he referred to a blessing as a “trifling little mango of magic.”  That, my friends, is what I strive to create.  That is ingenuity right there. 

With practice, maybe I’ll get there.  But for now, it’s time to slather cocoa butter on my basketball of a belly and read aloud to the wiggly chick tucked inside.  We’re on to another short story tonight, “Closing Time” by Neil Gaiman.  And then…  Yaaaaaaawn….

Sleep sweet.

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