Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vigour


Vigour you say! Yes. And vim too. In fact there are two tugboats in Halifax Harbour called Point Vim and Point Vigour - how I love those fat little vessels! And here they are 


vigor  n. ( note: this is the American spelling -from the American Heritage Dictionary - I use the Canadian or British)

1. Physical or mental strength, energy, or force: Our vigor was depleted by the hot weather.2. The capacity for natural growth and survival, as of plants or animals.
3. Strong feeling; enthusiasm or intensity: argued his point with great vigor.

How do we revise for vigour? We tighten and brighten our manuscript. We remove the flabby words and phrases and put in the muscular. We make each word haul its weight and more and that each chapter, paragraph, sentence and word adds to the story. Think about any work you really love and you will see what I mean.It's not that works can't be fulsome and  have a languid pace in places but each part of it must go towards the effect you are after.  You might consider tuning a guitar (well - you might!).  The maxim for that is the same as for revising - not too tight, not too loose. Too tight and the sound is high and strained - too loose and the sound is dull and off key. Look for vigour in your work by reading out loud and when you feel you can't stand something check the pace, the authenticity and the vigour and you will find the right path!

Vigour is the opposite of  tired. Have you gotten tired and put hackneyed cliches in where sparkling gems (talk about hackneyed!) should be? Let's try that again -

Vigour is tired's opposite. Search your ms for hackneyed cliches and eliminate! Find phrases that have the sparkle and shine of a two year old's princess tiara. 

Go forth - wake up yourself and wake up your manuscript.


4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Yes! It's so important make every word and scene lift its weight and do its share. And it's hard to do that if the story doesn't have a strong focus, just like it's hard to stay in physical shape if you don't focus yourself and set goals. I love this perspective, Jan!

Susan Scott said...

Thank you Jan, sparkling ...

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I love that those tug boats are named that! And good reminder on STRONG words. I am a utilitarian writer, so not a lot extra, usually, but making the words stronger is always a good idea.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

My mom used to say "vim, vigour and vitality!" This post made me think of her...

My final revisions are to give my work this very thing. It's the most fun part of writing for me.