Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations.
Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text.
The next post I’m going to revisit is Getting A Little Touchy Feely . Originally posted on . The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded about using variations of feel in writing. I know I do.
Getting A Little Touchy Feely
Feel, feeling and felt. Three destructive little filter words. These words shift perspective from the story and into the character. It’s awkward to read and leaves a reader feeling disjointed even if they aren’t aware. I don’t write in first person perspective so these words in particular can cripple a sentence fast.
What to do about them. I use them a lot when I write, it’s how I get out what needs to be said, what I need to express. It’s lazy and I’m okay with that because it won’t stay that way. I searched my manuscript and found the following incidences:
Prophecy Ink 1st draft:
Not all of them are filter word incidences. Within conversation or dialogue, they are fine or as a verb unrelated to emotions. These three are often (At least in my case) plunked into wordy sentences or super lazy ones.
Since I wrote this I’ve done more editing and found better ways to highlight other errors and filter words. I’ll highlight the ones I missed in these examples in hot pink.
Joe put the sandwich together hastily. He felt the hunger pangs in his stomach. It had been ten hours since he remembered to eat last. He left the house with the printout to meet Sasha. He was excited to show her the new proof and felt certain she would believe him now. (52)
There’s a whole lot of telling going on. Let me try that again.
Finally, Joe found some undeniable proof after searching eight hours straight without even a snack. His stomach growled as he picked up the printout, his hastily made ham sandwich, and ran out the door to meet Sasha. (37)
That was better, less wordy too. Here’s a mistake I make all the time.
Joe dragged his feet along the path, feeling the course gravel scuffed the soles of his shoes. (17)
There is no reason to feel through his shoes and yet I am guilty of having characters ‘feeling’ unnecessary things.
Joe dragged his feet, scuffing his shoes along the coarse gravel path. (12)
See now I would not have that ING in there. Scuffing.
The coarse gravel scraped against Joe’s shoes as he dragged his feet along the path. (15)
Editing and revising is a learned skill. Over time I’ve learned to examine sentences closer, to take a good hard look at the value of each word.
Joe is an emotional person so writing his feelings can be tricky.
Joe looked at Sasha then back to the path. He felt frustrated with her constant lack of interest in him lately. She just wouldn’t listen to reason, he was right this time and he knew it. He even had the proof in his hand to show her. He felt angry when she sighed dismissively and now he was ready to snap. (61)
In that one, I made a few oopsies. Filter words, wrong perspective, and wordiness. Instead of showing, I told his emotions.
Joe glanced at Sasha as he clenched his jaw. She was ignoring the hard evidence that he worked hard to find. She rolled her eyes when he tried to show her again. When she sighed dismissively, he clenched his fists, crumpling the precious printout. (44)
That’s a lot of clenching for one paragraph and still, there are some weak sentences. This is why I’ve started revisiting old posts. I wanted to show that as writers, we are constantly growing, learning and changing. This is how I might revise that revision now.
The muscles tightened in Joe’s jaw as Sasha ignored his hard found evidence. She dismissed the second attempt with an eye-roll, and when the third won him a heavy sigh, he crumpled the precious printout in his fist. (38)
Technically that brought that example down from the original 61 to 38. Not bad. Especially since this is a wordy manuscript that needs a lot of TLC.
Sometimes it’s not about word count and more about beefing up empty sentences. I’m going to highlight my filter words for these in pink as well. Let’s see how many make it through my “revisions.”
Feeling tired, Sasha crawled into the bath. The hot water felt divine. (12)
It’s like whiplash. In her mind, out and then back in. To fix this I would add words, it’s not always about keeping the word count down. That and it was a very boring sentence. The temptation to overdo it here is strong. Before I learned to make every word count, (Haha at least I try to) and to stop double describing things, it might have looked like this.
Stifling a yawn of exhaustion, Sasha eased herself into the hot jasmine scented bath. The heat from the hot water and the scent of flowers soothing her tired body. (28)
Gee, do you think the water is hot? Baths usually are duh, I’m not sure, and it’s not super clear, but she might possibly be tired. *Rolling my own eyes.
Yawning, Sasha eased into the jasmine-scented bath. The heat from the water soothing her tired muscles. (17)
There much better. Only five words added from the original and it’s not hurting my brain to read it. Except I have two ING’s in there. Now that I’ve had a lot more practice at this let’s see if I can fix it.
Sasha stifled a yawn as she eased into the jasmine-scented bath. Her sore body rejoiced as she relaxed from the heat. (21)
I could easily reduce it back down if I needed to, but sometimes more is better than less in a fugacious moment such as this one.
My advice about feelings.
Everyone has them, good or bad just make sure to keep them outside the character’s body or mind. Unless you are writing in first-person, show the feeling don’t tell it. he clenched his jaw (instead of) he felt frustrated.
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