Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V: Vitamins

What is the point of vitamins supplements?
They’re to supplement the diet. People take vitamins to get the nutrients they aren’t getting in their diet.
Supplement is the key word. We do not get all of our nutritional needs from vitamins.
There are some parts to writing that are like vitamins. Use them if there isn’t a feasible way to convey your message. Don’t use them for the entire bulk of the story.
For example:
1.      Ly words.
Slowly. Softly. Angrily. Use these words with care. If you can show she is angry with the way she stomps her size 6 sneakers, then show it.
2.      Telling.
There is the constant writer’s battle cry, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s true for the most part. But if you were to show every single part of your story, your book would be huge and boring. Do we really need to follow your character, feeling the press of the accelerator under her sneaker and watching the yellow lines of the road zip by? Simply telling us she drove home is sufficient. (Unless a deer jumps out in front of her or her size 6 sneakers turn into aliens that nibble on her toes).
3.      Description.
What? I thought we were supposed to create vivid, rich settings that the reader can visualize. That is true but too much of a good thing isn’t so good. With vitamins, two things can happen if you get more than you need. Either it causes you harm or the vitamins make a grand and useless exit.
The same thing happens with descriptions. Too much and it will kill your story or it will overwhelm the reader and they won’t get anything out of it. Neither scenario is ideal. Use strong descriptions and make them work for you.
A person who refers to her shoes as size 6 sneakers probably obsesses a bit over the size of her feet. Perhaps she is vain and delights in the fact that she has small feet. Or maybe they are hand-me down sneakers from her older sister that are too big and she resents the fact that they are not new and ill-fitting.  Maybe she’s watching the yellow lines zip by because she’s angry at her boyfriend and refusing to talk to him. Or maybe she’s an alien who’s never seen the color yellow.
I’m sure there are other writing vitamins. What are they?
Happy writing!


  1. I like your idea of "vitamin supplements" in writing. A little does go a long way. Thanks so much for following me, and I hope to see more of you! Julie

  2. Excellent V post yes vitamins are important to one's well being.
    I do hope you make your 100th follower.


  3. I read your post not long after reading a post over at First Writes by a Brianna on the letter V.
    In essence you both are saying the same thing--too much, even of a good thing, is bad.
    I guess my "vitamin" would be editing. All manuscripts need editing, but some of us edit till we have not just eliminated errors and corrected flaws, but have eliminated our voice and lost our original focus as well.
    I hadn't thought about writing "vitamins" in this way before. I appreciate your insight.

  4. Hmmm. Not in my writing, but in others: snarkiness. Wording just too clever too often.

  5. Similes. Some authors overuse them. Expand into other literary devices to make writing more interesting and less predictable.


  6. Good analogy between writing and vitamins. Too much and they can prove harmful.

  7. I love this post!! Why is it so hard to eat a balanced diet??

    I wish I had size six feet.