Or Writing like a Douchebag.
I don’t think I get this problem when I read books, mostly likely because it’s been edited and all those “fancy” words have been given the boot. But I don’t just read books; I also like to read stories that I find online*, cause sometimes you can find real gems amongst all the—for lack of a better word—shit.
So many amateur and aspiring writers troll through their thesauruses in search of a “better” way to say something. And often, I’m left remembering that episode of Friends when Joey discovered the genius of the synonym. And then he started finding synonyms for everything. Joey “baby kangaroo” Tribbiani, anyone?
Synonyms are cool, handy, and interesting. A word might not fit, you decide to look it up, and you come across the perfect one that just fits. They can be handy, but it can also ruin your writing. Someone might be reading your story, thoroughly enjoying themselves, and suddenly they’re hit with a fancy word. And all that enjoyment just goes out the window.
This might seem like an overreaction, but this is honestly what it feels like. I groan and go, Noo… And then it happens again. And again. Until I say, Fuck it! and stop reading.
What I see when I check out Fanfiction or the Writer’s Coffee Shop are hundreds of unedited, and often unbeta’d, stories. They just don’t know how to write well; they’ll write “utilise” instead of “use” or “ameliorate” instead “improve”. This is fiction, not an instruction manual (I don’t even know if they’d choose a seven-letter word over a three-letter word; typically, they’re not very wordy). And “ameliorate”? Come on!
You’ve gotta check this out. I don’t even know where I found it—originally, anyway. I remembered sending my sister an email after I read it because it was just so bad that I needed to scar someone else’s eyes. So sorry I can’t credit this properly, although to be honest, that’d feel too mean for me.
The tension was thick enough to strangle a flock of migrating birds in mid-flight and like all kettle pots, the hot steam always eventually come out, in some way shape or form, and unfortunately for Edward, Tanya’s steam was no longer contained.
So I’ve got some parting wisdom for ya: Removeth thy pole from thine ass so thou can go forth and write like a normal person!
* Finding stories online feels like a shameful act. Even more so when I usually go for Twilight fanfiction.
Yeah, it’s embarrassing, but amidst all the awkward and over-described love scenes written by people who have no idea how to write a sexy sex scene (or a consensual and non-abusive one when it comes to BDSM), and all the overdone angsty teenage angst that impossibly, can be dragged out into a whole story (WTF?), there are good stories to be found. Subjective, I know, but it’s true. You can find a good story anywhere; you just gotta look.
Once, I lucked upon a love story woven between a drama centering around a full-blow influenza pandemic. And what do you know? It was well-written!