Sometimes a writer will refreshingly admit that a part of the writing life is especially challenging, difficult, seizure-inducing. It could be those first words on a blank page, the unintentional overuse of a particular word, writing a decent query, or any number of to-do’s along the way.
Having written fiction for about four years now, I am not only getting better at writing, but also getting better at recognizing where I suck at writing.
- Telling, not showing. Hey, let me explain to you how my character feels. Because all of the body language, visceral reactions, and dialogue might not have indicated to the reader that the main character is frustrated. Just in case you missed it, I will make sure to include the word frustrated somewhere in this scene.
- My favorite word, just. My characters are just going over here, just talking about that, just thinking of new ways to use the word just. Because it’s obviously my favorite word.
- Chapters. Where should this chapter start? Where should that one end? What’s the natural break? Can I write the whole thing in one run-on chapter? Can I assign a new chapter each page?
- Directional cues. Did you know that characters must sit down? Stand up? Turn around? Lay down? Because if I simply say “lay,” how will you know they aren’t laying up–like basketball?
- Dialogue tags. He said, she said isn’t sufficient. My characters like to “chime in,” “murmur,” and even “chirp.” Moreover, how will you know who’s speaking unless I tag almost every line of dialogue with the character’s name or pronoun?
Yet it really is progress to know where your weaknesses are. Now that I have acknowledged what I suck at, I can correct it. I can change “sit down” to the more appropriate “sit” and eliminate a good third-to-half of justs in my manuscript. I can ask a beta reader where chapter endings make sense and remove adjectives that describe what all of my showing has already demonstrated.
I can get better.
Isn’t that true of anything you do in life? If you know what personality weaknesses you have, you can introduce tools and others to compensate for those. If you figure out where your relationship weaknesses lie, you can address them and improve your relationship. If you know that you always gain weight in your belly, you can use exercises that address your jellylike midsection instead of your perfectly-fine thighs.
Knowing what you suck at doesn’t make you sucky. It makes you smart–at least if you do something about it. Admitting that you have a problem really is the first step toward recovery.
So I will start today by saying, “My name is Julie Glover, and I am a justaholic.” Then, and only then, I can do something about it.
- Complete full rewrite of SHARING HUNTER. Still with fabulous Beta reader.
- Work with editors on short story for Orange Karen Anthology. Traded emails with content editor this week. Now my story goes to the copy editor.
- Revisit GRACE & FIRE (1st novel) and run through one more round of edits. Made it through 4 1/2 more chapters (up to 18.5). Not as good as last week’s 10 chapters, but moving forward nonetheless.
- Write one full short story.
- Write blog posts for Sundays (including ROW80 updates) and Wednesdays. Done. Posted Words that Begin with F and #ROW80 on Sunday, Professor Punctuation Takes on Quotation Marks on Wednesday, and Changes and Challenges with the New Year on Friday.
- Start plotting sequel to GRACE & FIRE (working title: HOPE & ASHES). Researching fire, arson, and forensics. If you are squeamish, do NOT read this next part. Skip down. In addition to learning fascinating facts about how fire burns bodies and what remains for scene investigators, I watched a video of cremation this past week; it was interesting, and the techs seemed very respectful of the bodies. (Since I plan to be cremated after my death, I was glad to see what exactly that entails.)
- Read and work through Empowering Character Emotions by Margie Lawson (lecture packet). I was halfway in when the round started and finished the packet in the first week.
- Read and work through The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. Working through two chapters a day. Finished 8 chapters this past week.
- Read at least eight fiction books. So far, read Hush Now, Don’t You Cry by Rhys Bowen, The Yard by Alex Grecian, and Your Spiritual Personality by Marita Littauer. Read The Ruth Valley Missing by Amber West this weekend, and I give it a definite thumbs-up.
- Exercise twice a week. Zumba on Monday. LOTS of walking this weekend.
- Take a true Sabbath–no working and time with God and family one day a week. I did okay with this last week. I took about a half-Sabbath, which was better than I had done before. It is hard to turn off the laptop and the brain.
And that’s it for this week!
So how has your week gone? What do you suck at? How have you worked or plan to work to get better?