Hello fellow writers! Just read an excellent article about, The Seven Red Flags in Editing: Why Editors & Agents Reject Your Manuscript After the First Pages By Meg LaTorre-Snyder.
A quick note about flag #4
Tags vs Attributions
It’s a “tag” when it doesn’t say “said”.
When the text says “said” it’s an attribution.
Tag: “Come here.” Jim beckoned Molly to him.
Attribution: “Come here,” Jim said, beckoning Molly to him.
Tags can be a useful way to break up the he said/she said attributions, but should be used well and in conjunction with the anchors of he said/she said’s to keep the reader focused on who is speaking.
Attributions = the anchors of dialogue to keep the reader in the know and focused on who is speaking.
Well written Tags = little breaks here and there from the “said’s” to keep the prose moving along with ease.
The reader should always know who is talking and should never have to guess.
I have to laugh along with #5 because the overuse of adjectives and adverbs is definitely one of my weaknesses! A word of caution: don’t give them up altogether! Well chosen, they can add a little flavor to dry prose.
Something to think about in #6
“the length of books tending to be shorter and shorter these days, you want to make every word, every scene count toward your ultimate goal and end.”
Have you read a book lately, and asked yourself, “Is this scene necessary to the overall story?” All the greats have done it. Jane Austen had the whole Miss Bates/apple scene in Emma and JK Rowling has the Quidditch cup game in the beginning of book 4. Entertaining to be sure, but of questionable necessity to the overall story.
Every writer is going to include words and scenes unnecessary to the overall story and editors may or may not cut them, but keep in mind you are trying to use your readers’ time wisely and not take advantage. As I was recently reminded, “sometimes you have to kill your darlings!”
One more note: There is a shocking use of “that” in the article. A good writer will steer clear of as many “that’s” as possible. “That’s” are almost never necessary. “Which” should be used instead, when needed. Cut them out altogether where possible.
Example: The book that was covered in dust.
Take out “that” and say- The dust covered book.
*People should never be referred to as “that’s,” people are “who’s”.
He thanked the teacher that gave him the pencil.
Nope! He thanked the teacher who gave him the pencil.
Meg has expert advice! Read it here-