I’m privileged to have attended Arvon’s Lumb Bank writing retreat twice as a teacher over the past few years. Any writer who wants to spend a week in beautiful surroundings with like minds should think about signing up for one of their courses. They’re not cheap, but they will pay you back immeasurably with good memories, encouragement and, hopefully, some good writing tips.
There are some little tricks of the trade that I passed on during my stints at Arvon (and in Fiction Factory, my online writing group… contact me for details!) that I find can perk up your work if you feel it’s not going well, or if it’s reading a bit flat. Simple, effective exercises, such as reading your work out loud to yourself (you’d be amazed at how different the written word comes across), writing three pages using sentences no longer than six words, writing a story without using a single adjective, writing a story (in fact, writing an entire novel) without using adverbs (which are Satan’s pointless prose addition of choice). Most of these exercises encourage cutting. Less is more, and all that.
Anyway, I tend to overload on adjectives in my own work and then do a bit of pruning afterwards. Adjectives are buttered toast in the grammatical kitchen. Very nice and lots of fun, but too much can leave things looking a bit tubby…