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Schrijftip 23: Leren van E.L. James (deel 1)

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E.L. James is vooral bekend geworden dankzij haar trilogie Fifty Shades of Grey, of Vijftig Tinten Grijs. Wat maar weinig mensen weten, is dat dit verhaal ook ooit begonnen is als een fanfic - en wel over de romance tussen Bella en Edward in Twilight!

Daardoor is het niet gek dat er genoeg te leren valt over haar verhaal en schrijfstijl. In dit eerste deel een drietal lessen die je mee kunt nemen in het schrijven van je eigen verhaal.

1. Avoid repetition of words and phrases. 

When Ana first meets Christian Grey, she thinks she spots a “ghost of a smile” in his expression. That’s a nice, descriptive way of putting it — it’s easy for the reader to imagine. The problem is, James uses the same exact phrasing only a few pages later, for the same character. And that’s not the last we hear the term “ghost of a smile,” either — it pops up a few more times in the first book. Using something so specific again and again just comes across as lazy.


2. Use adverbs sparingly. 

Anastasia Steele never met an adverb she didn’t like, especially when it’s modifying the way she or another character speaks: “I mumble almost inarticulately”; “I murmur apologetically”; “he murmurs softly.” (For painfully excessive use of the word “murmur” throughout Fifty, see rule #1).


3. Don’t use substitutes for the verb “said.”

The Fifty Shades characters rarely just “say” something, they 
 it, they
 it, they 
 it, they mumble it, they 
ad nauseum
 (see rule #2, and then rule #1).
One of Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing is this:

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled,” “gasped,” “cautioned,” “lied.” I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

What he said.

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