Problem with description

by Kate
(Socorro, New Mexico)

Question: I have real trouble describing things in my novel (people, places, etc.) It makes my writing feel weak and amateurish. I also love to reuse words such as "look" "watched" "turn" and "said" How can I improve my writing and make it seem stronger?

Answer: You might start off with this article on using specificity to improve your descriptive writing...

As for reusing words, "said" is not usually a problem. It is far better to use speech tags such as "he said" and "she said" than to look for more colourful verbs. "Said" works best because it does not take attention away from the dialogue, where the focus should be. However, in a two-person dialogue, you can often get away with leaving most of the speech tags out or using bits of action to indicate the speaker.

Similarly, reusing common words is not necessarily a problem. What really stands out is when you reuse an uncommon word too often within a paragraph, especially if it is a word that has a lot of synonyms.

However, if you notice that you are reusing a word too often, it's not hard to replace it.

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