Dun Writin’—Now Whut? A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing – (12 Directions and Impossibilities)

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Directions and Impossibilities

Welcome to today’s article! I hope you’re keeping busy and life is not getting in the way of your writing schedule too much.

We’re going to talk about two short items today. The first is directional redundancies. It’s a big term, isn’t it? It was covered briefly in Article 01, Redundancies, but I wanted to go a little further with it. In the previous article, one of the examples was “Her tears ran down her cheeks,” and I pointed out that tears can only run in one direction, can’t they? When was the last time you ever saw somebody’s tears run up their cheeks? (Perhaps if they were hanging upside down on a jungle gym, but that’s not likely.)

Unless your book is a science fiction novel and you’ve changed the basic laws of science, gravity only works one way. Water flows downhill, things fall, drop, and ooze down, and bodies sit down. Therefore, using the word “down” in such descriptions can be redundant and cut out. Other times, it’s necessary for the sentence structure, but could be reworked to eliminate it.

  • Buffy fell (down) on the floor.

  • Buffy fell down the stairs.

  • Buffy’s tears ran down her cheeks.

  • Buffy’s maple syrup oozed (down) into the bucket.

  • Buffy sat (down) in the armchair.

Some words imply the action without using the word “down,” such as reduce, decline, decrease, and sag.

The same principle applies to the word “up.”

  • Chris stood (up).

  • Chris’ ball flew (up) into the air.

  • Chris climbed (up) the stairs.

  • Chris looked up.

  • Chris raised his hand (up).

Words that imply the action of “up” without using the individual word are raised, aloft, skyward, and upward.

The second topic for today is impossible actions. Have you ever seen a sentence like this? “She threw her eyes across the room.” Or, “His eyes traveled across the floor.” That’s disgusting! Put their eyes back in their head, please! Eyes cannot travel, roam, or be thrown anywhere, unless you’re Dr. Frankenstein and you have a bottle of spare eyeballs in your laboratory!

Sentences of this sort occur when writers are trying to be creative and are use language figuratively. In my humble opinion—and you may disagree!—this sort of construction is best left for poetry. If you’re trying to tell a story, you want it to be understandable. You don’t want to distract the reader with impossible action and take them out of the story.

As I said, though, this is a left-brained editorial opinion, and you creative right-brained writers may disagree vehemently. All I’m asking is that while you’re being creative, don’t create impossibilities.

We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!

Susan

Susan Uttendorfsky

Owner, Adirondack Editing

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15 thoughts on “Dun Writin’—Now Whut? A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing – (12 Directions and Impossibilities)

  1. Reblogged this on Pukah Works and commented:
    Susan,

    Had to laugh at a few of your impossibilities because my first line editor had such a fun time with my tendency to create similar situations in my first book. I still have a copy of the critique around here somewhere, and I cringe every time I go back to see just how much I’ve learned in three short books.

    Thanks for posting, and thanks for hosting Chris.

    Until next week!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, but thiskidreviewsbooks, did you know that in space, no one can hear you scream? Actually, that is true, and spacecraft engines don’t make any noise unless you’re inside them, and spacecraft change directions in a straight line, not like a P51 diving to strafe an unfortunate locomotive. The second generation of BSG had it right, Star Wars, eh, not so good ………. Physics majors, chime in 🙂

    Like

  3. My eyes ran across the uneven flooring until, suddenly, the cat pounced upon one of them! I won’t even start, much less finish, beginning to enter into telling you about the painful pain involved.

    🙂
    MJM

    Like

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