Monday, February 11, 2008

Chip MacGregor (Advice for Novelists, Part 13)

Here's agent Chip's response to:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

"Write with verbs and nouns."

I read that advice in Strunk and White's
Elements of Style back in high school, and it's still the best bit of writing advice I've ever heard. Too many writers will show me flowery, painted-up hoo-haw that has lots of description and plenty of color, but no power. To add punch to your writing, cut it back. Clean it up. Spend the time selecting the right nouns so you don't have to prop them up with adjectives in an attempt to clarify them. Give me direct verbs, so you aren't trying to dress up your weak writing with adverbs. Verbs and nouns -- that's where the story is told.

--Chip MacGregor, Literary Agent, MacGregor Literary. (Visit Chip's informative blog here.)


michael snyder said...

I agree. Good stuff, Chip. Just wish I could pull it off more often!

Mike Dellosso said...

Thanks for posting all these great bits of advice, CJ, and thanks to all who have participated so far. This is invaluable stuff, a real treasure chest of wisdom.