I am the last person to spout about how texting and its shortcuts are ruining the written word. I love my emojis and emoticons. I use them regularly, but I have to admit, they’ve made me lose sight of something very important to me. Subtle writing.
In texts and on social media, these shortcuts are what they are, part of the fun. It never occured to me that it would spill over into my writing, and it was able to because I wasn’t paying attention. As I go through this final edit with the extraordinary Penny Barber, I am relearning lessons I learned long ago. Write invisibly. Trust your reader. Trust your words.
Before Penny, I’d have witten that like this:
As I go through this final edit with the extraordinary Penny Barber, I am relearning lessons I learned long ago–Write invisibly. Trust your reader. Trust your words.
Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, yeah, there is. The mdash and the italics say, “I’m here! Look! Me! The author!” They’re author intrustion of an insidious kind, because they’ve become easy signposts to spot, and that’s the point. We spot them. It’s not writing invisibly, it’ s not trusting my reader, or my words. You got it just fine the first time, right? Exactly.
Many years ago, the incomparable Teresa Nielsen Hayden told me I write invisibly. It’s one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever recieved as a writer. Writing invisibly lets the story shine brighter. It allows the reader to not only see it clearly, but to put her own spin on things, to hear the characters in her own way, to give her own voice to the words she is reading. That is a beautiful thing, and it’s what makes a good story into something extraordinary.
Just this morning, I commented on a comment a friend made on Facebook. To this pic he wrote: