My given name is Zoe, derived from the ancient Greek for life. As a girl, fascinated with words, I came across zoetic in an old dictionary. A rare or archaic word with the same derivation as my name, zoetic means living or vital. Also from the same derivation is zoetrope, the Victorian toy you see below.
Words on the page, of themselves, are little more than patterns of ink on paper and can be just as dry to read. Like a zoetrope, my aim as a writer and editor is to give life and vitality to black squiggles. Words ought to sparkle, shine, and move me to laughter or tears before I send them out into the world. There I want them to sing and dance in the mind and imagination of readers.
How could I call my business anything but Zoetic Words?
Life is outrageous. Life is unbelievable. Life is drudgery. Life can be all of those things and more. Story is the outrageous and unbelievable without the drudgery, without the breakfast cereal, the ‘hello, how are you this morning,’ and ‘how does your garden grow?’ unless, of course, the cereal is laced with arsenic, the hello is from a serial killer or the garden hides a body. In other words, unless they are vital to the telling of your story. Keep your story moving. Match the pace to the story. Don’t slow it with unnecessary words, beautiful though they may be, if they don’t progress the story, they don’t belong in it.
A great writer is that way by intention. Each word is carefully selected to create just the right mood and atmosphere. Clarity and ambiguity are never left to chance but are by deliberate choice.
Weed out the unnecessary, the showy, the waffling and the cutesy words and phrases which cloud the issue skies and leave only the best.
Make every word earn its place in your manuscript, preferably with more than one reason for its particular use over another, more general, less specific word. The choice of sound, sense and sensitivity are chosen with the reader in mind rather than the writer. Less show, more beauty.
One of the easiest and most effective revision methods must be to read your words aloud. Should you stumble over the words, if they don’t have a pleasing rhythm, cadence and flow, mark them and go back to them.
Anywhere there is an awkward clunkiness, where the mood of the words is not as you intended, if they don’t touch the heart as you envisioned when you drafted them, go back and look at them with a critical eye rewording the passage.
Develop a more sensitive ear by reading great writing, listening to the words and the music they create in your mind.