EVERY WEDNESDAY, I teach an introductory fiction workshop at Harvard University, and on the first day of class I pass out a bullet-pointed list of things the students should try hard to avoid. Don’t start a story with an alarm clock going off. Don’t end a story with the whole shebang having been a suicide note. Don’t use flashy dialogue tags like intoned or queried or, God forbid, ejaculated.
I didn’t read most of this article (it’s 25+ pages printed) and I never write fiction but the first paragraph I’m all in. For any kind of writing. I think flashy dialogue tags are what prompted me to say:
I don’t really like poetry. I like it even less when they read it.
I’ve gotten to the point where I never sit down to a blank piece of paper either. Never for a long piece anyway. All my long form stuff is dictated and then it just flows from the whole stream of consciousness thing. After I’ve gotten the gist of it out I’ll go back and fix (try to) the spelling and grammar. Maybe expound on half thoughts or whatever.
That’s also why there are so many fragments in my writing. I don’t talk in complete sentences.
One of the best things I ever read was, “write like you talk.”
I’m not 100% behind that but it’s rare that I consult the thesaurus these days.