aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,
aprilhenry
aprilhenry

How much would would you chuck?

From the September issue of The Writer, “The conditional tense kills. So often in amateur stories, readers are told what a character “would” do. ‘Hal Conklin would sit on the steps of the town hall with a bag over his head and both middle fingers held erect for all who passed him by.” This is all very well and fine, but as routine far less effective than ‘That Friday, Hal Conklin would sit on the steps of the town hall with a shopping bag over his head and both middle fingers held erect for all who passed by.’”

[Full disclosure: I had a real “aha!” moment reading this, remembering a friend’s short story that I think might have used the dreaded “would.” But what I don’t understand is why the author of this piece, Peter Selgin, changed more than the “would” in his example – “bag” became “shopping bag,” and “passed him by” became “passed by.” Still, excellent advice.]



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