Longing For The Right Word

     Last night I finally got to writing after dinner and the words were not flowing.  I was tired and preoccupied thinking about work, ie. the day job.  I was developing a scene and it was like squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, and then it happened, I wrote the word “longingly.”  Now “longingly” by itself is not a bad word, but my character was not looking at him longingly, sure longingly was in there but what she really had were mixed feelings and she was longing not particularly for him, but for someone or something.  She was lonely and confused and “longingly” didn’t cut it.

     Now what to do.  I am a firm believer in “done is better than perfect,” let me rephrase that “DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT,”  and I was tired, and the words were not flying from the fingertips.  But “longingly” sat there mocking me.  It was wrong, it wasn’t even done, and I couldn’t lie to myself enough to pretend it was done or that I would go back later to fix it.  I hated it; not only an adverb, but an adverb of mythical proportions.  

     I rewrote the scene, without “longingly.”  I went back and did what all the books and writers say to do which is show don’t tell and I even surprised myself.  My character was grateful that I did not impose on her something she did not feel and she rewarded me.  I like when characters do that.  And I learned that the only way I can keep going is to stay honest.  Otherwise, I will end up with something I hate and, likely, a lot of adverbs.

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5 thoughts on “Longing For The Right Word

  1. Oh, I love this! It’s so easy to just want to add that final bit of punctuation and move on, but you know “dishonesty” would have nagged at you. And look how much you got from your persistence. Well done! I often get stuck in that position–move on feeling dissatisfied, or keep nibbling away with the possibility you’ll never reach that delicious sweetie filling. Well, this time, you reached the sweetie filling. Hurrah!

  2. I know this is an old post of yours but it resonated with me. Adverbs…they’re as bad as clichéd “showing” and poor acting, he sighed and thumped the table.

  3. “My character was grateful that I did not impose on her something she did not feel and she rewarded me.”
    I like that! I’m always pleased when my characters guide the scene 🙂

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