Monday, May 5, 2014
Born to a poor Catholic family near Boston, Maggie Kearney rises from rags to riches, using those who can help, and discarding all who cannot. Eager to bury her poverty- stricken past with its shameful secret, she lets nothing stand in her way, not family, not love, and certainly not honesty.
Question from the e-mail: One of my readers didn't mark any mistakes, but just said said, "This story needs to be tightened." Got a handy wrench? Or maybe an explanation?
Answer: Run-on explanation is a problem that I surely have had, so should know how to fix it. Essentially it happened to me when I explained too much and didn't trust my readers to "get it." Can't say if that's what's happening to you, Cheryl. But it could be.
It most often happens when, on first or second draft, I put in too many prepositional phrases. In an effort to show or explain, it's only natural to use a lot of prepostions. But when there are too many, it can slow the pace and make the prose hard or tiresome to read.
Relax, this is easy to fix. Use the search key to look for words like "because", "to", for", "so", "and", and "but", etc. Then check to see if the phrase is really necessary, or if you can combine or condense the sentence. Remember simple short sentences and paragraphs are often the best and clearest writing.
Especially, with "and" and "but" make certain the two elements are not just two ways of saying the same thing. As I said, this is one of my own personal failings. In revising I often add explanations. In my final pass, I try to cut out 10 to 15 per cent to eliminate my bad explanation habit.