We have all faced the excuses. They are so tempting, especially in the busy times in life. For me that’s right now. I’m spending my weekends at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival leading people around the grounds and helping them find things. The garden is getting past the growing stage and I have a lot of harvesting and food prep to do. And since it is the end of summer, it is also the end of my hiatus from my day job. On top of all that Sweetie and the Kitties want my attention and it’s already time to start planning for November (because when you are in charge of herding cats that’s what you have to do). So it is really tempting for me to let the writing slide – just until things “stabilize”.
Everyone believes in something. Even Atheists. The problem arises when that something, isn’t the same thing as someone else’s something. Worse yet, when those two someones who believe in different things use the same words for them. Differences over the meaning of “god” have caused wars. There have been great upheavals when two powerful people have looked at the same ancient text and decided that it tells them radically different things about how to live.
And these are just examples from real life.
In fiction, you would think that we could come up with some truly spectacular stories about the differences between various sects. We probably could… but for the most part, we don’t.
I first heard of White Room Syndrome on the OWW (Online Writering Workshop) to describe the issue many first drafts have of forgetting to describe the environment.
I’m guilty of this in my first drafts, particularly when the action gets wild and I’m really into what the characters are doing. I’ve even heard from some prolific and famous authors that this is a constant struggle in first drafts. “That’s what second drafts and first readers are for” – Mercedes Lackey (CONvergence 2008). Unfortunately for many new writers, it is a problem that persists into later drafts and may be one reason they find their stories hard to sell.
Edit: v To revise or correct, as a manuscript
Dreadit: v To actively avoid editing a particular manuscript (I’ve been Dreaditing “Cookies For All Occasions” for the past week).
My dear friend Devin Harnois , coined this term to describe the process of getting ready to edit something. It’s that time when you know you have to get down to the business of editing something so that it is ready to face the world, but you just don’t want to spoil the perfection you imagine that it is by actually looking at it.
Every character – well really every person – has their own unique voice. The challenge for any author is to translate that voice onto the page. In mainstream fiction – you know, the stuff that’s set here and now – almost all of the characters are human and the uniqueness comes from where they grew up and other life circumstances. I’m not going to say that keeping all your human characters’ voices distinct isn’t a challenge. It is. You have to live with them in your head and make sure that they don’t bleed into one another. It’s a challenge. But, if you write science fiction or fantasy there is a high likelihood that you will have at least one character who is not human.
I am a writer. Sometimes I feel like I have to defend this basic premise of who I am. I am a writer because I write – most days in fact. I don’t always write a lot, but I get the words out of my brain and into the computer. Therefore I am a writer.
The problem is when I tell people that I’m a writer, they want to know what I have published. I don’t have anything (other than this blog) published yet. I’m a writer, not yet an author.
Avoid cliches like the plague. That’s one of the “rules” of writing. I’m going to take a deeper look at this rule today in my periodic series on “the Rules of Writing.”
Using cliches is a piece of cake. Over using them is as easy as falling off a log. Poor use of a cliche can really get up your nose in no time flat. But a good one well placed makes everything crystal clear.
Let’s take a closer look and why that happens. First a definition of cliche from Dictionary.com:
There are numerous jokes in the theatre world about motivation. There’s a rather famous one in “Noises off” when the director tells a character to take the groceries into the living room. “So, What’s my motivation?” the character asks. The audience knows that the motivation is that someone else just went into the kitchen and the whole point of a farce is to make sure that characters miss each other. That doesn’t help the actor much who is trying for all he’s worth to play the character honestly with real motivation. The farce isn’t funny if it’s too obvious that the director is just trying to keep the characters apart.
The holy grail of writing is having readers who get lost in your story. When your beta readers forget to make comments, that’s a good thing. Really it is. Most writing advice is about how to achieve that wondrous state with great words and perfect sentences. They tell you things like – don’t use cliches or adverbs, they throw your readers out of the story. Be careful about the slang you use, modern slang will throw your readers if your story isn’t set in modern times. Even names have to be right because a mismatched name will throw your readers.
I recently spent the a weekend, well six days really, in the company of close to 6,000 fellow geeks. At CONvergence science fiction convention – 4 days of convention plus set up and tear down. It was a wonderful break from the pressures of the real world – the world that tells me daily to hide my geekiness. That’s not to say that there weren’t pressures. Actually quite the opposite. Both Sweetie and I are department heads, meaning we are two of the people responsible for making sure that the weekend goes off without a hitch. There were hitches, but that’s not what I want to talk about.