August 05, 2008

Daily Blog 7: The 7 Deadly (Writing) Sins



The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing

Sin is a word that may be out of fashion in much of society, but looking at the darker places inside ourselves can be beneficial if we are willing to do something about them. Lest you think this is a sermon, the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins can be applied to your writing, as well.

1. Sloth
Clean up sloppy writing. Eliminate unneeded modifiers and words. Cut the number of adverbs, words ending in ly, which are usually unnecessary. For instance, tighten the description to show a character's anger instead of writing it as he said, angrily.

2. Gluttony
Use the right word. Write tight. Don't fill up space with two words if one will do. Don't use $10 words because you can. Write at a level that anyone can enjoy without running to the dictionary. If they can't understand it, they won't read it.

3. Greed
Don't cut corners in your work. Wanting more is good, but it shouldn't be all consuming.

4. Envy
Sometimes the little green-eyed monster can awaken when you see the success of other writers and authors. Wish them well and work hard. Maybe your turn is next.

5. Lust
The eyes are the windows to the soul. What you take in can affect who you are and what you write. A good question might be, is this something I'd show my mother, pastor or want God to read?

6. Pride
You should be proud of accomplishments, but there's some truth in the Biblical adage that "pride comes before the fall." Many of those CEO's now spending time behind bars still feel the world owes them a living and just don't get it. A little pride is good; a lot is dangerous and can turn you into the person no one wants to be around.

7 Anger/Wrath
Leave the anger to your characters. Let them simmer and stew on the page. Save your health.

** Your Turn: Have a few sins that you feel writers should never commit? Share them or feel free to confess your own if you dare.

15 comments:

  1. Not sure what to call this -- Self-Conscious, perhaps.

    Self-Conscious
    Writing is by nature a solitary effort. But writers need others to grow. Take time to network via the Internet and face-to-face. Learn from other writers and give to others -- don't be self-conscious about your lack of experience or knowledge. You'll be surprised by what you know and can share and by what you can learn. Go to talks by other writers -- and ask questions. Volunteer for conferences or writing organizations, offer to speak. Once again, don't be self-conscious. Step outside your comfort zone and be other-conscious.

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  2. You mentioned adverbs, but I'll go a step farther and say "Never use an adverb in your title!" It will make people run from you book.
    Lj

    http://ljraves.blogspot.com
    http://thesexclub.net

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good post! Agree with all your SINS listed. Took me a while to let go of some of them, but the advice and counsel of so many writers and editors I respected forced me to let go of my precious ego, and realize what I was calling my "style" was just bad, self-indulgent writing. LOL

    Marvin D Wilson
    Blogs at: http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
    Eye Twitter 2 - http://twitter.com/Paize_Fiddler

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  4. Wonderful Seven Deadly Writing Sins. Oh, but if those were the only ones to avoid. How about that old Repetitive Habit. Recently read a sentence in a published book that had four of the word as in it. Geez. And wandering POVs come in real close to second.
    This was a great post.

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  5. wonderful!!

    I linked this to my lj blog

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  6. This is a great post, Chris! Nicely done!

    As to adverbs, they can be a wonderful tool when PROPERLY used.

    Karen Syed
    http://www.karensyed.blogspot.com

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  7. "Speaking with False Tongue"

    This is when your dialouge doesn't ring true. A 16 year-old gas station attendant doesn't say, " The gentleman returned to his vehicle and proceeded south." He says, "The guy got into his Jeep and went back up the road, that way."

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  8. Nice blog. I'm learning to cut down om my use of the word "that."

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

    http://www.evelyndavid.com

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  9. Hmmm...There are things I write for my mom and things I write I'd rather not have her read (and she'd rather not read), but I don't write anything that I'm ashamed of showing to the world in general. I think being too self-conscious about the potential audience (be it earthly or celestial) can stop a writer from growing. That being said, I love this post! Gluttony was my favorite - authors that use triplicates: "She was lovely, gorgeous, beautiful" ...pick one! Not all three!

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  10. Hmmm...There are things I write for my mom and things I write I'd rather not have her read (and she'd rather not read), but I don't write anything that I'm ashamed of showing to the world in general. I think being too self-conscious about the potential audience (be it earthly or celestial) can stop a writer from growing. That being said, I love this post! Gluttony was my favorite - authors that use triplicates: "She was lovely, gorgeous, beautiful" ...pick one! Not all three!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent post - I'm sure I've got some of those sins and a few others laying around raising havoc - I will have to hang on to this post.
    Thanks
    Cricket/Billie
    www.cricket-sawyer.com

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  12. Bear in mind that the flip side of these sins can be just as deadly. Too few words can be as bad as too many. The issue is excess, in either direction.

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  13. Please I beg forgiveness for I, too, have sinned!

    Pen in hand, may I enrich readers instead of making them retch.

    Diana Black
    woofersclub.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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