I've been judging contests lately. And one thing I've noticed (and this is something I likely do in my own writing as well *slaps wrist*) is that authors tend to exaggerate because it sounds cool. And this is not hyperbole I'm talking about. Here are some examples of what I mean:
Blood gushed from the wound.
If you've ever seen something gush, I bet this isn't what you really meant. Blood doesn't tend to gush. If it did, your character would bleed out in a minute because the average human has about a gallon-and-a-half of blood in his body. Fill a milk jug and time how long it takes you to pour it out.
Pain wracked every nerve.
Did it really? Where was this wound that wracked every nerve? It might have felt like it did. But until you experience childbirth, you likely don't understand true, body-encompassing pain. So if you plan to have your character experience greater pain later on in your story, maybe down play this one.
His heart hammered in his chest.
I'm not saying it didn't, but often a character's heart will hammer in his chest ten times in one book. Can you find a way to show fear differently?
Tears poured down her face.
Hmm... Pull our your gallon of water again and pour yourself a glass. Now be honest. Is that really what the tears did?
I know, I know, I'm being picky with these examples. But that's why I like this quote so much. We are authors, and words matter. Every single one.
Have you been guilty of over-exaggerating in your fiction? If so, as you edit, look for those places and take care to choose a different word, one that will communicate exactly what you need it to.
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This is the last time I'll blog until after the GTW vacation. I will miss you. I hope you all have a lovely two weeks. I hope to see some of you at the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop in Kansas. I'll be the one in Converse.