Great writing advice from writer Chuck Palahniuck.

concretehunter, Yautja, 7 years ago

"In six seconds, you’ll hate me.

But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward – at least for the next half year – you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.

And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those, later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.”

You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen was always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her ass. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling"

DeathWraith, Yautja, 7 years ago

Well it's too late for this now, it's almost Christmas!

Dronehive, Yautja, 7 years ago

Hey, I've actually been doing stuff like that for a while. But its nice to see some examples.

Deathdrop, Yautja, 7 years ago

I've been writing a lot of first-person stuff specifically to avoid doing this because I know how hard it's gonna be, but I really should try, because it's fantastic advice.

-Bloo-, Yautja, 7 years ago

It is good advice. Showing rather than telling is a really great skill to have once you're comfortable with it. Not only is it good for your own writing, but you also start reading other writers' stuff more critically.