I have a manuscript due next month. Right now I’m going through the first draft tightening scenes, tightening emotions, tightening words. Passive becomes active. Run! Slay! Dart! If Winnie-the-Pooh was there, I’d have him “ponder” rather than “think, think, think.”
And, if I’m able, I’ll pull out all the adverbs – or at least use them so powerfully they make a statement. (See what I did there? 😉 )
Yet I don’t think like I write – at least not all the time. I think in gradations and repetition, like Winne-the-Pooh. I think in an unspoken, often even subconscious, standard. Comparisons are in our nature. She is taller than I am. She is younger than my daughter. She is… you fill in the blank. We think by ordering a world we know, recognize or imagine.
Austen writes just this way. She describes Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility as “still handsomer, … so lovely, … though not so correct” as her elder sister, Elinor. She compares
all her sisters against/with each other. She also employs a prodigious number of very-s, most-s, and much-es throughout all her novels. She continually compares, I think, because we readers understand it. We instinctively understand her.
But as I said, that’s not how we necessarily write anymore – but to bridge the two? That might be powerful indeed.