I flicked through a book last night. Actually, it was my book, The Housekeeper, which will be published in February.
While I cringed at certain sections, (quite a few actually, but I'm told most people who write books do a lot of cringing when reading their own work) what struck me most was how I agonised over such simple things. Why, for example, did I spend most of a whole morning trying to work out a way to say that a month had passed?
Maybe I was trying to be original and write an attention-grabbing sentence, the likes of which had never been written before about the passage of time. But nothing sprang to mind and I ended up writing, " ... A month passed..."
One word for every hour passed, a new definition of slow. I should have gone with my instinct and just wrote down what happened. Who knows what I might have written during all that wasted time?
I spent many more hours trying to think up different words for said, as in he said or she said. Replied? Murmured? Whispered? Mumbled? And then I came across Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing. Number Three, or it might have been Four, stated that "said" was just fine, all of the time. And while we were at it, we could cut out all mentions of "suddenly."
OK. Got it. I'm going to try that next time. I'm going to try to focus on the story, and the people and the ideas and not obsess about the little words. I've decided that they can look after themselves.