A bit of fun today with some friendly writerly advice sprinkled on top.
We writers are sometimes caught up in our stories and gloss over the exact details of what we’ve written for our characters’ actions. If we’re lucky, readers skim over those details without stopping to think about the literal meaning of our words. But more likely, they’ll see them and have an unintended reaction. We don’t want that.
Good agents and editors should highlight these potential gaffs and ensure we fix them. But with so many writers going the indie route, the lack of serious quality control can be glaring. Good writers should identify and correct these problems before querying their manuscripts or directly publishing the books.
Thank heaven I caught these no-nos before I ask anyone to beta read the revised Summer at the Crossroads.
Kathryn slumped in her chair and dropped her head in her hands. “Oh, God. Where in Guatemala?” Okay, she’s “broken up” about some news. But should she be quite so literal about it?
He pulled back to take her head and caress her wet cheeks. Really, now. That’s a bit extreme. Surely he could caress her cheeks while her head is still firmly attached to her body, couldn’t he?
But then her eyes fell on the framed photograph on her desk. Don’t you hate that squishy feeling when you finally find them and have to put them back where they belong?
Then there are the just-plain-awkward ways of going about things.
They pretended to focus their gaze on the images and accompanying text while listening to the speaker. By the time they finished pretending to focus their gaze, the speaker would be long gone. Now, “they pretended to study the images while listening to the speaker.” Much simpler, don’t you think?
And when your typing can’t keep up with your thoughts, you get sentences like this.
“If you want to be a typical grad student, you shave imported beer, not domestic.” What, you never shaved a beer before? You “should have.” You don’t know what you’re missing. (Despite the way the sentence reads, this isn’t a scene where a bartender explains the art of shaving the head off a beer.)
Have you run across anything like these in your reading or writing? Did you do a double-take? Or have a good laugh where the author wanted a darker mood? Fellow writers—take a look at your WIPs. Are your characters doing unintended violence to their bodies or setting up readers for an undesired bout of laughter?
I plan to finish Meghan’s next story installment this weekend and schedule it for Tuesday. It’s looking more likely that we’ll be hit by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy, and there’s a good chance we’ll lose power, even though we don’t live on the coast.
If you don’t see me responding to comments on Tuesday, I’ll be back as soon as I can. Our power company’s been known to take more than a week to restore all power in the area…. But if you don’t see a post for Tuesday, then I couldn’t finish the latest Meghan post before we lost power.