Sunday, March 12, 2017


Banishment has a spicy etymology, associated with outlawed, cursed, prohibited, or exiled. 
Here’s the start of a list of what you might usefully banish from your novel.

~ Fatigued and fatiguing scene and especially chapter openings. 

Start with a hook. Every time. John Green opens The Fault in Our Stars this way:
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Not “My mother’s appraisal was that I was depressed.”

~ Drooping middle.

Glen C. Strathy says that “The middle is just as important as the end.” You need subplots, varied settings, escalating tension, and foreshadowing of every character arc. Make the middle matter.

~ No deus ex machina.

Yes, agents and publishers prefer novels to come in under 100,000 words. You’re already past that, so you—just stop. Always convey at least some resolution, and without any cavalry.

~ Offstage action.

Tough as it might be to write sex, confrontation, explosion, or violence, let your readers experience the exciting parts in real time. Don’t collapse or summarize set scenes or drama.

~ An endless list of supporting characters.
How many is too many? That’s unanswerable. What is? Fewer characters are better.

~ Dead metaphors.

They offer all the imagery of stars on a summer night, and that truth is as good as gold.

~ Mixed metaphors.

They irritate like as an invisible memory glittering in your heart.

~ Passive voice.

There have not been found that many reasons for it to be used by you.

~ Double Negative.

It isn’t right not to use double negatives. See what happens?

Tip: Banish both listlessness and clutter. Exile them from the pages of your book.

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