Matilda Butler, ABC's of Writing #3
This week, the friendly competition with Kendra continues. As you may recall, last Monday, Kendra blogged about her new writing tip video that focused on adverbs. Her inspiration was Stephen King’s statement that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs” and that video, called Writing Tips: Root Out the Adverbs, is already beating my previous one in number of views. But more about that in a moment.
I’ve just posted a new video, Writing Tips: Control Your Verbs. I benefited from reading Rita Mae Brown’s book Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual and decided to pass along her advice on use of verbs. No, Kendra and I aren’t trying to teach grammar. Verbs are one of the key building blocks of writing and paying attention to our use of them can make us stronger writers, conveying our message more powerfully. (Yes, I realize I just used an adverb. No one’s perfect.)
A common situation in writing is that we struggle to simply get the story on paper. Who has time to think about the specific words? This is quite acceptable for our first drafts. But then it is time to go back and examine each sentence and paragraph. One question you might want to ask: Does this verb take my reader in the right direction? It isn’t only about strong verbs. Sometimes your passage is delicate and soft verbs are appropriate. Perhaps you are expressing a mood and you need verbs that convey the emotional content. Keep in mind what you want you reader to learn and make sure verbs help you tell the story. And, as Kendra pointed out last week, don’t expect an adverb to make up for a weak or inappropriate verb.
Bear with me for some statistics
Well, back to this competition that Kendra started. She challenged me to create a Writing Tip video that was less than five minutes. Always a sucker for a dare, I produced a 2:33 video on finding the beginning of your story and blogged about it last time. This week’s video comes in a 4:50 beating Kendra’s which is 5:39. Why does all this matter? On the minor level, it matters because we call our series Writing in Five. On a major level, it is helping us to focus better and shape our content. We’re both quite close to the target time.
Here’s the score:
Number of Matilda’s videos that are less than five minutes: 2
Number of Kendra’s videos that are less than five minutes: 0
Now it might seem that I’m the current winner. However, there is another element that is even more important -- the number of views
Number of videos with 50 views or more:
Matilda has 3 videos (74, 81, and 92 views)
Kendra has 4 videos (50, 63, 86, and 111 views)
On the surface, this may seem fairly close, but it isn’t for two reasons. First, Kendra not only wins with more videos in the 50 or greater views category, but she also authored the video with the highest number of views. In addition, I’ve created more videos so by sheer force of number, you’d think I would triumph. Even when I total her number of views (344) and mine (429) and divide by the number of videos we’ve each produced (5 for Kendra; 7 for me), she still wins -- an average of 69 views for each of her videos and 61 for mine.
I’d appreciate your help. Please click on this link -- http://womensmemoirs.com -- and play the Writing in Five video about verbs. I think Rita Mae Brown will furnish your mind with a new perspective and respect for the ever-present verb. That's what you’ll get. I’ll get views and hopefully can beat Kendra.
Stay tuned for more videos and competitions.