I’m limping to the computer this morning with a sprained ego and a new list of writing rules.
#1. PISI. People Introduced, Setting Introduced - no white rooms!
(This scene’s happening amidst fluffy clouds in heaven. Right? Because you haven’t described trees or roads or buildings…)
You know, in real life I’m really bad for that. Just start talking about something without giving the person a bit of a clue at the jumpstart to let them know the who-what-where. So often, Kevin responds with, “Huh?”
Of course, he’s just as bad. But that’s beside the point, because I’m supposed to be a writer.
As much as this is an obvious weakness of mine, at least it’s a pretty damn easy one to fix. New scene - people introduced, setting introduced. Movement through the scene to a new location, just throw in a few tidbits to let people know.
Really, a short sentence here, a few words there.
The nice thing was, it was readily apparent where I should do this. And really, truly, this is such a simple thing for me to fix. I can’t imagine anyone having a flip-out over the need to put in a few descriptive touches, so no, my critiquer, I'm not offended.
#2. MALT. More Action, Less Thinking (Or Talk.)
Oh man, overkill. I mean, reader, did I mention overkill? Maybe you missed that the first time? And the second? Because I had a serious problem with overkill.
Get the idea? Man, these people talk too flipping much! Or they think too much!
In other words, Sandra, let the reader know what they’re thinking by what they do and how they act.
#3. PUW. Prune Unnecessary Words
Anyways, you know, it’s, um, like slightly okay
I, like, can’t hardly believe it’s so, you know, nasty. Like, anyways, actually thought I could like write?
Like, WHAT THE FUCK was I thinking? Or was I even slightly thinking at all?
I went through a manuscript and removed every occurrence of the word ‘slightly’. And there were a few other phrases that went choppity-chop-chop.
Now, I somehow managed to word something horridly in my post yesterday. And need to clarify, though I made a comment about it, because some seemed to miss that.
Yesterday, I did not receive a This is Shit letter. I have. Oh, believe me, I have.
In fact, I got a rejection letter yesterday from an agency I forgot I submitted my manuscript to, because it took them 9 months to respond.
But yesterday, I was lucky. Oh, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck by the end, not because the critiquer was cruel. It’s just that it required thinking, concentration and it was a lot to go through.
I know that nothing but an honest critique, tempered by sincerity, is the only thing that will do a writer any good. (Sorry, but if you get someone who wants to see you fail, their critique may very well be worthless. That’s the people who write “THIS IS SHIT” or “THIS IS SLOPPY WRITING” or “YOU SUCK” on your stuff. It isn’t really feedback, is it? It’s just an opportunity to insult you, and yes, I’ve gotten that.)
But If you can’t handle having someone who actually wants to see you get your stuff published give you feedback, take a hammer to the typewriter now and do something else. Because there are reviewers out there who won’t care if they rip you to shreds, no matter how certain you are that your work is perfect. And everyone gets bad reviews.
Next week, I’ll probably blog at more length about some of my rejections, some of the critiques I’ve received, and some of the days I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.
But I wanted to share a few things with you, because you know what? I laughed at myself a lot yesterday. Oh, yeah, I feel like an idiot. And incredibly embarrassed that some people are seeing my beginner’s mistakes.
But every smidge of self-consciousness about that is overridden by one thing – the fact that I’ve got friends out there who care enough to take the time to not only read my work, but offer extensive commentary on it. When I do the re-writes to Suspicious Circumstances and Echoes and Dust/Terms of Redemption they’ll be better books for everything I’ve learned from talented writers, like James and Trace and Russel (who has returned to the blogsphere this very day!) and Stuart and…and…and…
There’s a long list of people I hope I can thank in print in my book. Each one gave me a spanking, in their own fashion.
And each one has contributed to everything I’ve learned that’s going to make me better as a writer.
I’m lucky to have friends who push me to be as good as I can be.
I’ve shared a few of my new writing rules with you – anyone got good suggestions or rules they use to help them?
**Don’t forget the cozy noir pre-contest contest two posts down. Everyone is eligible to enter the pre-contest contest because readers here will vote for the winner over the weekend.** Unless I have no readers. But I plan to post those definitions sometime within the next 36 hours…with votes taken until Monday afternoon.
I swear, there was something else… But I’ve forgotten. If you know, email me and remind me.
** There is one raging debate still going, and I’ve got a 50-50 split on responses. TFONTF. If you know what that stands for, weigh in with your opinion.***
Now I’m going to go do something I didn’t get to do yesterday – jog!
“No passion in this world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” - H.G. Wells.