Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: Writing Style

I know, you're all out there braving the black Friday maddness... elbowing to get that LCD TV half off, getting mowed down by crowds.

You're probably reading this after you've returned from getting stitches in the E.R. and getting your broken leg set and casted (from being trampled over.)

Glad you had fun!

So now, let's talk a little about budgets. That's why we brave the crowds, right? To make that all-mighty dollar stretch just a wee bit farther.

In writing, I like to budget too. Oh, I don't specifically assign a value, but I keep it in mind as I shop (er, write.)

What kinds of things do I budget?


Exclamation marks! Isn't it fun to use them!?! I love it!!!!!!!!! They give our manuscript pizazz, funk, and energy!!!!!!!!!

Actually, then get quite annoying to a reader. And they are the lazy writer's way of showing excitement or emphasis. Instead, our word choice should be enough to convey that.

That said, sometimes a good ! is just needed. So give yourself a budget. One ! for per scene. Oh, you might have two !'s in one scene and none in another, and that is fine. And if you have !'s left over, then FABULOUS! You frugal writer you!


We all know, you need more than one was per scene, as much as we get hounded about not using them. But the word "was" is around for a reason. It's needed from time to time.

So let's pretend that each was is $10.00 coming out of your advance check when you get published. Go around your manuscript and decide... do I REALLY need this word? Is it worth $20? Can I reword it to make it better?

Budget, my friends, it's all about budgeting!


Us 3rd person POV writers love italics. They let us cheat and tell our character's thoughts in first person. But... that is just it. It's cheating. If you're writing in deep POV, you're already hearing your characters thoughts in 3rd person. Still there are cases when a  little italics are needed. In my Sandwich book, my heroine has these little prayers to God that I italicize. They aren't overbearing, and serve a specific purpose.

But, for most cases, let's say for every italicized word you use, it costs you $100.00 of your advance. NOW is it worth it? Better make that italic something really important!

Oh yeah... did I mention that reading italics too much are not only annoying, but bad on the eyes?


We all really love a good adverb. I whole-heartedly mean, don't you truly think that they greatly add to the spectacular luster of a novel? Not only that, but an adjective simply makes your stupendous prose swimmingly better, correct?

-ly words are another lazy writing habit, one that is a newer rule of thumb.

But, just like the word was, sometimes an -ly word is needed. But overuse can is a sign of a novice writer, so break out the wallet again, my friends.

Instead of, "She walked quickly" you could state, "She ran." Or there are a lot more clever ways, but you get the idea.

Same with an adjective, although adjectives are more needed then an adverb. Instead of "She had brown hair." you can say, "The bruinette..." that's probably a bad example, but you get the idea.

Adjectives are a little cheaper. They are only $.25 each.
Adverbs, on the other hand, will cost you $10 each.

So write wisely!

Discussion: Anyone go black Friday shopping? (or, given some crazy stupid stores opening at insane times... Black THANKSGIVING shopping?) Do you agree with my budget? Any other things you budget when you write? Anyone want to loan me a few was's??? I'll give them back... HA!


Anonymous said...

Wow!!!!!!! This was a GREAT post! And can I say for the record that I LOVE !!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know why, but I just can't help it. I don't use them when I write stories though. At all. But I adore adverbs and have to trim, trim, trim when I edit. Sigh...

Happy Black Friday! (I stayed inside the house, safe and sound.

Hutt-Write Voice said...

Good points - intersting way to present them - shopping! Hope you all survived Black Friday.

Anonymous said...

Great comparison Krista. I'd hate to see how much mine has cost me.

I had wondered what all this Black Friday business was! Thankyou for explaining - it's been swarming around on twitter and I, being from the UK, was perplexed as I didn't understand how it related to Thanksgiving.

We have that day only after xmas.

Krista Phillips said...

Sherrinda, I love me a good !!!!! too! I don't have a problem leaving those out, but it is so enticing to add an ! every once in a while!!

Krista Phillips said...

Linda, we survived! All limbs accounted for!

Krista Phillips said...


Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving. Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday here, and is the unofficial "start" of the Christmas season, and a lot of people have off work on Friday, it is natural that people want to start their Christmas story. Over time, this became known as "black Friday" as it the day retailers hoped that sales would "bring them out of the red and into the black."

It's become a sort of, well, madhouse. Retailers have crazy deals on select items with only few in stores, so people literally camp outside at night to try and get a good deal.

I am not one of those crazy people. I DO however get up at a ridiculous time of the morning and take on the crowds.:-)

Keli Gwyn said...

What a clever post, Krista. I keep a lookout for all of these potential "budget busters" in my stories and delete, replace, or reword them.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Krista, loved this post! I was too tired after shopping on Black Friday to check any of my favorite blogs, but I wanted to see what you shared yesterday. Great idea to budget.

So, is it cheating to use ! in dialog? Every now and then? As I've NaNo'ed this month, I let some of those pesky "was's" creep in, but they'll be eliminated in my re-write. :)

Hope you've recovered from your Black Friday shopping! :)