Let's talk about useless crap that sucks the life out of our stories. For some of you out there in cyberland, this may be a painful post to read. I'll give you all a minute to hide your toes before I put on my spiked shoes. Who says I'm not a sweetheart?
What I'm about to share is nothing new, but for some reason, I run into these offenders a lot, and I've made it my life's mission to banish them from the grid. Before I list the devils, I'll make a confession. The truth: I used to do ALL of the below, and sometimes I catch myself about to do them again.
#1 For me, reading the words, "going to" is worse than having a nail hammered into my face. Yep, I hate those two words that bad, and after this, you will too. Starting now, your life is forever changed. Don't bother trying to put this out of your mind because from here out, "going to" is your enemy. If you write about baking cakes, don't you dare say, "I'm going to bake a cake." Instead, write, "I'm baking a cake." If you need help banishing the combo from your vocab, we'll have an official ceremony. Write "going to" on a piece of paper, call your friends over, and bury the words in the dirt. If your friends refuse to participate in the funeral, bribe them with booze, chocolate, or fruity candles. Island Breeze isn't a good choice, but all other scents might work.
#2 When you talk, do you say what's on your mind? Or, do you grimace, grin, snort, sigh, and fume the words out of your mouth? DON'T go nutty with speaker tags to give your dialog muscles. Your dialog should be powerful enough to SHOW readers what's up with your characters without resorting to tags that will actually weaken your dialog and brand you as a newbie.
#3When a character reads other character's minds, but they have zero superpowers. Nope. That doesn't work. We don't know what people are thinking, but we can guess by their body language and expressions, so if characters aren't SHOWING visible signs of distress, another character shouldn't assume they're breaking down on the inside.
#4 A character reacting to something before the surprise is revealed. You all know what I'm talking about, but I'll give an example anyway. (She gasped and fanned her flushed cheeks. Through the cracked blinds, she gazed at Johny sunning by the pool in the nude.) Wrong. (She cracked the blinds to gaze at Johny and spotted him sunning by the pool in the nude. Her eyes widened. She stumbled away from the window and fanned her flushed cheeks.) Right.
#5 In real life, if somebody does or says something shocking, we react accordingly. Same should go for our characters. If Tommy tells Sally that he beat his pet iguana with a rubber hose, Sally might call him a brute, smack him in the nose, and rescue the battered lizard. Not that I'm a fan of scaly reptiles, but heck, even I would give Tommy his coming ups. So why do I continually read books (even novels contracted by big houses) with characters who aren't connecting emotionally? I don't get it.
All righty, I could keep going, but I don't want you guys to think I view myself as the queenie of writing. I thought maybe somebody out there could benefit from this post. A little while back, somebody pointed this same stuff out to me, and it made all the difference in my writing.
Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)