Beware of nominalizations (AKA zombie nouns)
Few mistakes sour good writing like nominalizations, or, as Helen Sword likes to call them, zombie nouns. Zombie nouns transform simple and straightforward prose into verbose and often confusing writing. Keep your nouns away from elongating nominalizations!
Okay, so I’ve been struggling to rewrite the opening of one of my older novels for a year now. And that’s not hyperbole. It’s a common problem, too: sometimes there are entirely necessary parts of stories that we find ourselves unable to write. Here are a few of the finally-fed-up-measures I’ve been using to get this thing underway:
- Toss the chronological timeline out the window. The scene absolutely has to include this frustrating beginning. Fine. It’s your novel; it’s your judgement call. But that doesn’t mean the scene has to start at the beginning. Skip to the part you want to write, most likely the exciting part. Write that. Then jump back. Maybe you return to the very beginning, maybe you don’t. Jump forward again; pick up where you left off. Or don’t: show the character finally out of the situation and looking back on it. Bottom line: write the part of the scene that grabs you, no matter where it is. Skip around however you like. (Maybe you’ll even end up leaving the scene organized that way.)
- Completely change what your character was going to do. Often, you’ll find yourself stalled because your inner storyteller’s gut knows better than to let you move forward. Something here, the way you have it, just isn’t working. So step back and let your characters throw a curveball. Let them take hold of the scene, flip it on its head, and give it a couple of kicks to the stomach. Let everything go wild. At least something’s happening. Even if it’s all a little too extreme for your story, you may stumble upon a thread of action that can be watered down for a more appropriate edit.
- Change the location. Put your characters in the same basic situation, but shift them to a more dynamic location. If they’re sitting in a room talking to each other, put them on a crowded bus instead, or in a classroom during an important exam. Whatever they’re doing, put complications in their way. Make it more difficult for them. Have an aggravated stranger pick a fight with one of them while they’re unloading from the bus. Force them to track the teacher and whisper in order to communicate. Again, the scene may not end up being left in this exact form; just focus on getting yourself writing.
- Write from a different character’s perspective. If the person isn’t alone in the scene and you’re not writing in third-person-omniscient, dial in on someone else. Get their thoughts; observe the main character as they act rather than as they think. How do their actions look from an “outsider’s” perspective? Also, what is this new POV character of yours doing in the scene? What do they know about what’s going on, and what’s beyond their knowledge? Gain as much story information as you can, and then skip into a different head.
Felt like drawing pre-cyborg Monsoon in a ninja get-up.
Yay for youth and messy hairlines!!
[TW: Abortion, Medical Abuse]
How can someone stand behind abortion, when you have a life inside of you that God created for you? How can you say that this life isn’t worth it? If you can’t take care of the baby for whatever circumstances than there is always adoption available to couples who can’t conceive, but still want the joy of being parents. OPEN YOUR EYES! God has bigger plans for us all that we don’t even realize the picture.
Excuse me but it appears your baby is actually upside down
Did you take Sex Ed freshman year because babies come out headfirst
Hi, OP! As someone who was given up for adoption, allow me to call bullshit on your little post there! You see, when I was adopted, I was a white-skinned, healthy, neurotypical infant, which basically put me at the top of the list, right underneath white-skinned, healthy, neurotypical MALE infants! There’s only one kind of infant people wanted to adopt more than me! I was SOOO lucky! But if you actually bothered to look at the information readily available on the interwebs, you would be aware that the majority of people who are forced to rely on abortion for family planning are poor people and people of color. Of course, those two demographics intersect, thanks to the institutionalized racism of our society! Neat huh?!
Of course, even babies of color are not in high demand with couples looking to adopt. Many who do want to adopt outside their race choose to go outside the country, where laws are less strict and the process is often less expensive. Of course, most of the infants adopted this way are obtained in unscrupulous fashion, but who cares about that when you’re saving a little Korean or African baby from the horrible fate of growing up in Korea or Africa??? And all those children who have birth defects, are born with diseases or disabilities, or have other issues… WELL. Who wants to invest that kind of expense and time? Why would you adopt someone broken, LOLOL?!
Granted, there are some wonderful people who understand the system a little better, and make it a point to try and give POC and disabled children a good home. But they make up a very small fraction of potential adopters! This difference in supply and demand leaves a lot of children stuck in the foster system, where their chances of being adopted diminish with every passing year, and their chances of being physically or sexually abused INCREASE! Isn’t that wonderful?
And of course, we haven’t even talked about the person who is giving birth to the baby! I know you probably think pregnancy is a wonderful, happy time, and for some people it is, but it is also one of the greatest health risks a person can take. I love my son very much, and from the day I found out I was pregnant with him, I wanted him! But I also nearly died giving birth to him. You see, I had pre-eclampsia, the most commonly fatal birth complication in the world. My blood pressure was 180 over 130! At twenty-two years old, I was actually headed for a stroke, hah hah! How funny is that? And all it took was missing a single pre-natal appointment during which my blood pressure rose to dangerous levels and my body tried to kill both me and my son. Those seizures sure were fun, as was the emergency c-section performed without anesthetic! And being chained down while the operation was performed, because I was delirious and wouldn’t stop trying to fight off the doctors, that was a BLAST! It was great for my husband too, since he almost lost his wife and child in just forty-five minutes. You can imagine how thrilled he is at the prospect of me ever getting pregnant again. Babies are certainly cute, but pregnancy can have massive health complications, and I know it’s such a bummer, but they are PERMANENT. :( My abdominal muscles never recovered from being hacked through with a scalpel, and the flood of hormones caused by late pregnancy have changed things from heartburn (never used to have it, now, all the time!) to my emotional reactions (I cry when I see pictures of kittens now. I used to be tough). These are changes I did not ask for, cannot control, and cannot fix! And many people go through worse! I know, right? Unbelievable, but go look up the word ‘episiotomy’ and then look up ‘birth rape’ and I’m afraid you’ll find some stuff that just isn’t very shiny. Plus, the studies actually show that people who carry a baby to term, give birth, then give it up for adoption suffer HIGHER rates of post-pregnancy complications like post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis, general depression, and other mental health issues. Adoption actually isn’t good for the person giving birth at all!
I’m afraid the picture you chose to use there is also pretty disingenuous. I know, I know, it seems like nitpicking. I’m not trying to be mean! :( But that picture shows a fully developed, viable infant, and most abortions are performed when the fetus isn’t even a fetus - it’s a blastocyst. That’s just a clump of cells. Seriously! You can totally find pictures on the interwebs and they’re not even gross, LOLOL! Later-term abortions are usually performed because of health complications, though some of our intrepid state legislators are trying to change all that! They care so much about people who are pregnant, you see, that they want to force them to carry dead or dying fetuses inside them until their body either becomes infected while it rots in their tummies (this is called sepsis, and it makes people very sick, and can even kill them!), or forces it out naturally in a gush of blood and fluids! Isn’t that so caring of them? I’m so glad they’re around to make those decisions for me! And if a pregnant person is not allowed to terminate an unviable fetus, in some states, they have to carry the child to term, give birth to it, and then watch it die in their arms because its lungs weren’t developed, or its brain formed outside its skull, or any of a million possible birth defects that will kill you just as quick as lickity-split! Isn’t that wild?! Of course, these people go through terrible grief, and as I mentioned, some of them may get sick and die from not being able to abort dead or dying fetuses. But I guess that’s just A-okay with you, huh?
Basically, I think before you suggest adoption as a universal alternative, you should actually go do some research on adoption. And before you condemn abortion, you should do some research on abortions - not the stuff your church is giving you, the stuff the real doctors are saying. Go to Planned Parenthood (if they haven’t all been closed down, ROFLMAO!) and request whatever information they have on the process, the statistics of who has abortions and why… and actually, all of that is on the interwebs! Isn’t technology AMAZING?
And in closing, since I’ve been asked this question many times and I know it’s coming? Yes, I realize I am here talking to you because I was not aborted. But the thing is, if my mother had chosen abortion, I wouldn’t know the difference, so it wouldn’t matter to me. And if she decided that choice was best for her, then that choice would have been best for her, and I would never want to take that choice away from her. As it is, since I was given up for adoption, and since I have seen the statistics on how badly people who give their children up for adoption suffer, I have spent much of my adult life worrying about her, whether she’s healthy, whether she’s okay, and feeling that if she did suffer from any of the common post-birth symptoms, it is at least partially my fault, even though she made that decision on her own. Which is silly, I know, but at some point, all children have to stare down the consequences of their parents’ having them. For some, that’s poverty. For others, a life-time of their parents struggling to treat and care for a severe illness or disability. For others, it’s wondering if their mother ever got over giving them away, and wishing you could reach out and assure her that it’s okay, she doesn’t have to be haunted.
May your birth control never fail!
Sonneillonv deserves a mother fucking standing ovation here.
Whether it be fanfiction, original stories, drabbles, songs, poems, books, or anything that has to do with creative words, then reblog. Let’s gather all the writers of Tumblr together.