Monday, November 25, 2013

Writer’s Studio: Avoid Writing Mistakes That Make Your Fiction Suck

Avoiding serious suckage should be any writers Job One. Sure, there is so much that is important. So many things to do and not do to create work that seems real to the reader. Things to elevate your words and lift your characters off the page. But before you get anywhere near any of that you need to start with the basics: making sure your work doesn’t suck.

Ernest Hemingway was very good at
creating writing that did not suck.
Here Script magazine looks closely at this very issue. Though this piece relates specifically to writing for the screen, there’s a lot here that all writers should be paying attention to in their fiction. Some you may already be watching for, but a few you might not have ever considered.

Though this advice doesn’t have all the smoothness or even the snap we got used to from dear old Elmore and -- certainly -- not all of it applies to work that is meant for the page, not the screen, there’s a surprising amount that does apply to all types of fiction. For instance:
4. The scene begins at the very beginning of the exchange, rather than the middle. Yes, many conversations begin like this in real life. But on the page, it’s crushingly dull. Instead, enter the scene mid-conflict by jumping in as late as possible (without being confusing). Then, make sure to exit the scene before it’s all wrapped up neatly. This leaves some tension to push the reader into your next scene.
And another:
8. We’re introduced to too many characters on the first page. Introduce us to just a few characters at a time. It’s like going to a party: If the host tells you everyone’s name at once, you won’t remember a single name. But if you start by talking with just two or three people, then move on to the next small group, you’re way more likely to get to know and care about each individual.
The full piece is here.



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