A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident. ~W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938
There are so many topics I wanted to cover today that I decided to do a quick overview of some great information that I’ve come across this week. Muse Tracks was designed to take you all along for the ride as we make our way in this crazy writing world. Hopefully you have found our blog informative, thought provoking, and a bit of fun! So put on your thinking caps and pull up to the computer- I’ve got some interesting tidbits today.
Steven James shares with us his thoughts on mistakes that many fiction writers make.
- Don’t overdo symbolism and themes. Once your reader clicks onto the fact that you are using something like water as a symbol, they will be looking how you insert it into your scenes. At that point, it’s no longer clever, it’s annoying and will distract the reader from immersing themselves in the story. When looking at themes, don’t run with tired clichés. Instead of using “forgiveness is best”- try exploring questions that lead the reader on a quest rather than preaching from the pulpit.
- Don’t try too hard. It’s the same in real life. You want to avoid the person at a party who tries too hard to be funny, to be witty, to be an expert, to be clever etc. If you are doing this in your writing- stop it! Readers won’t love your characters or your story any more if you are doing this at your keyboard.
- Don’t fail to anticipate your readers’ response. In other words, make your scenes believable to keep your reader engrossed in the story, not asking questions about your characters’ actions. Steven uses the example of a psycho killer on the loose hunting down your main character. You’ve set the mood and then your character strolls home and cooks a cozy dinner with a lovely glass of wine……what?!?!? Who needs the psycho killer? I would want to kill the character myself because they’re too stupid- just saying
- Don’t use a hook as a gimmick. We all know that we need to grab our readers’ attention right off the bat. Make sure your hook is a promise of what your story is about and the type of book they will be reading. If you have a tremendous explosion rock the city’s foundation, unleashing the hounds of hell, but your story is really only about a romance between two geeky librarians, your hook is definitely a gimmick. You are a conning your readers. Never a good idea.
- Don’t leave your readers hanging. (This is a personal pet peeve of mine.) If you finish a scene with a life and death moment and then cut to the next one where folks are having a cup of tea out on the veranda- it’s irritating. I want to know whether the character is going to die so I will simply skip the tea party and hunt for the continuing action. You might think you are creating tension but you’re really just ticking your reader off. This is definitely another “STOP IT” moment.