On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Noah's Ark

He reached quickly and lightly to push the carved wood door open. His hair was black and coarse, and his eyes made me jump with their brown, almost-incandescent light.

"Emily!" he barked in a loud, penetrating voice. "You need to hurry."

I stumbled forward, my toe catching on the chair leg.


Noah's Ark occurs when writing elements -- adjectives, adverbs, or prepositional phrases -- come two by two. It's an easy trap to fall into. While it isn't *wrong* to write like this, this style weakens the writing because it repeats itself.

Look at the above sample. In three lines there are several Noah's Ark pairs:

stumbled/toe catching on the chair leg

The quick solution to Noah's Ark is to choose the strongest modifier, or better yet get rid of both of them. Let's try this with the passage above:

He pushed the door open. His eyes made me jump with their almost-incandescent light.

"Emily! You need to hurry."

My toe caught on the chair leg.

It's still not great writing, but it certainly moves better.

Those who write with much Noah's Ark tend to have static writing. They describe THINGS rather than ACTIONS.

The more lasting solution to Noah's Ark is not to set up sentences in this double-double modifier format to begin with. Instead use vibrant verbs. Don't stop to admire the view of your scene, but instead for each sentence push your characters and events ahead.

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