Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's the Little Things That are Important

So you've developed multi-layered characters and plot, showing that the reader forgets he's reading, engaging dialogue, and description that leaps off the page.

And yet, your story sucks. Why?

Relationships are usually not destroyed by occasional major blow-ups when the rest of the friendship is sound, but by a steady stream of annoying, grating, disrespectul, underhanded behaviors and jabs that eventually wear away the love and replace it with disgust and disinterest.

Something similiar makes readers toss aside a book, never to return. An occasional screw-up here and there won't lose your reader if the rest of your story is sound. But no reader wants to fight through page after page after page. Eventually, he will give up and find another book to read.

Here's a quick checklist

* Typos

* Grammar/punctuation mistakes

* Wordiness

* No variances in sentence structure

* Overly explanatory sentences dramatic scenes

* Brisk, flat, lazy sentences when a topic needs developing

* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs instead of strong verbs.

* Repetitive sentences that make it obvious youi're using a thesaurus.

* Over-explaining of what should be obvious.

* Deadwood and filler words

* Filler beats in place of scene construction because the writer read on someone's blog that these are better than dialogue tags.

I made this last one up, so I'll explain.

"I had a bad day today." John closed the door.

"What happened?" Susan set down her knitting.

John frowned. "My boss yelled at me."

Susan sighed. "Did you punch in late again?"

John flinched. "Don't start."

"You know its true," Susan rolled her eyes.

Whenever I encounter this in a book, I know the rest of the writing will be amaterish , too. As writers we can do better than this.

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