Cliche is a town in France

Well, actually, that in itself is a cliche, and untrue. The town in France is Clichy. Nice is another town in France.  Nice is a word you shouldn’t use in writing. Like cliches, it is verboten.

I’m taking an excellent writing course these days from a fellah named Russell Barton. He’s pretty cool, as writing instructors go, filled with interesting little nuggets of information and good writing information as well. He edits our homework assignments with fierce red pen and today he went on a rant that struck me right in the core.

Emollients, he said, like “just” and “as if” and “seemingly” were all fine in the first draft of things, as they helped roll the story out. After that first draft, though, they should be terminated with extreme prejudice.

He caught me. I’d passed in a first draft of a story that was filled with oozing unguent. It slid out of my fingers covered with gooey modifiers and justifiers and wishy washy language suitable for any bureaucrat. My fingers practically slid off the page from the grease and the oozing red ink, spiraling about in ever more frustrated language from Russell.

It’s a darn good thing I brought cookies with me today, else I might have been slid right out of the class. At one point, Russell explained that I’d have to be a much better writer to attempt something I wanted to try. Ouch.

But it’s just what I need. I’m at the point now I don’t want the namby pamby, “Ooh, you write so well.”  I want people to tell me, “this is muddy,” or “try this a different way,” or”for God’s sake, cut that out!” I need a kick in the teeth, a push to exceed expectations. I’ve received wonderful support of late, and I am grateful for the positive voices – they gave me the strength to go on.

Now it’s time to do the hard work. I’m ready to make this writing a go. And Russell is helping me along, one angry red swipe at a time.

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