Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Emerges Briefly


I have been busy writing, editing, living, and bundling up to stay warm (seriously - this is the first winter in a long time that I packed a blanket in my car for my morning commute).

And to be a bit honest - the only times I've thought about the blog are those times I'm at work and a little shy about blogging on the job. :)

I'll try to talk a little bit more frequently so my blog stays alive. If you are still looking in on me - thank you so much. *waves in sheepish gratitude*

I did have two thoughts today (OK technically more than that) -

If somebody tells you that you wrote a 'See Spot Run' novel

This came up at one of the writing places I hang out at. The writer was upset because a critter had made such a comment about his/her work, and he/she didn't quite know how to react.

This instance reminded me of something that I'm fighting with in my own writing. When somebody tells you that you wrote a 'See Spot Run' novel, they are trying to communicate to you in a rather rude way that you are telling them stuff instead of showing them. And it possibly is a hint that your writing style and sentence structure is too simplified and too unvaried.

See Spot. See Spot run. Clever Spot. Spot sees Jane. Spot likes Jane. Spot runs to Jane. (or whatever - it's been years since I've seen one of those books).

I would say the best thing to do is seriously look over your writing and keep an eye out for 'telling' if that is your problem. If you are guilty of writing over-simplified sentences, that just means you need to pick them up and flesh out your story. Make your reader feel like they can see and feel what's going on. If you aren't sure how to do this, pick up the nearest book and check out the sentence structure. Compare it to your own writing.

This doesn't mean nitpicking about adverbs and scoffing at the Mary Sue's and Gary Von Stu's that run amuck in X popular novel. This means picking up a book like that one and seeing how that author conquered the basics.

Something I'm doing while editing is keeping an eye out for any lazy writing and cliches.

Lazy writing would be any of those spots where you have characters acting unrealistically because it fills dead air and moves the plot along. I let this be in first draft, but when I go back and edit I try to fix these areas.

Cliches - one thing that cracked me up was the fact that I had unconsciously created an Edward type character in the first chapter of this WIP I'm working on. At the time I wrote the first draft, I hadn't read Twilight yet and hadn't even seen the movie. Imagine my shock when I picked up my novel for editing earlier this month and realized that I had the female main character moving to a new school and encountering a creepy white faced vampirish guy with messy dark hair in her first class of the day. The guy acts strangely towards her and doesn't actually talk until they both skip Health class. She skipped because she accidentally burned her hands. He skipped because they were discussing diabetes and pricking fingers. He had a fear of needles and skipped.

My hair stood on end when I read the book and spotted all the similarities - as subtle or general as they might be. I'm cutting or changing all of that, literally bending over backwards to make sure that nobody thinks about Edward when they read Nico's sections. :)

With the lazy writing, I'm noticing spots where Nico and Wesley (two main characters) are chatting in the hall outside one of their classrooms. I wanted to show an underlining tension coming from him, because his life is complicated. The same thing is true of the other main character (Kelly) who is the only student besides Nico who notices the new student (Wes). These are characters who I intend to be major characters by the fifth or sixth chapter, but I need to build the tension early on when they are first introduced - this without slipping into the cliche territory.

The way I'm doing this is concentrating on real life people that these characters are based on. I'm constantly thinking about how those real life folks would react if they were in the same position as these characters, or dealing with the hefty personal problems. It's also a way to keep the dialogue realistic.

About dialogue - if you think about TV shows (like reality ones where they aren't scripted) - a lot of them are edited so tightly that every snippet of dialogue moves the plot or subplot (which could be character development) forward. If there are any random conversations, they are muted or brushed over. See? Watching TV can be very educational.

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