Don’t Do It!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

11 Responses to Don’t Do It!

  1. jeff salter says:

    All very good points, Stacey.
    Of course, I take exception to the characterization of “geeky librarians” … because I was one for about 30 years. LOL


  2. I, for one, can’t think of a better romance than with two geeky librarians! Somehow that is incredibly sexy and ripe for romance- just don’t start with the world Apocalypse when it doesn’t have much to do with your real luscious story. **I would NEVER diss librarians!!


  3. Pretty much covers the big ones, Stacey! This is going into the Reference Folder!


  4. Thanks Will! Hey- I see Love Is Murder is shooting to the top of the ranks! Congrats. 🙂


  5. Sarah Andre says:

    Great advice, Stacey. So simple, yet so hard to do!


  6. Amazing how all that simplicity can be so darned hard!! Seems to be in effect in all parts of life. Arrgghh


  7. Tess says:

    Great advice!!! Great post!!


  8. Thanks for stopping in Tess. I miss seeing your smiling face!


  9. ravenraye says:

    Aw, crap. Now I have to fix all my scenes. Great advice!



  10. Oops! I didn’t mean for anyone to have to do that! Somehow I doubt you have to do that…don’t forget I’ve had the pleasure of reading your pages!


  11. Stacy, thanks for the post. Great advice.


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