Thursday, September 08, 2005

On second thought, I do have something...

Here's a list, based on this past year of editing novels for a living, of things I wish writers would not do:

--Use cliches over and over again that would make those Hallmark schmucks cringe.
--Write unrealistic, cheesy dialogue that sounds vaguely like a drunk trying to remember early Shakesepeare "Whatever for, darling dear, did you buy this can of cheese, so easy squeezable?"
--Sum up a person's character by saying someone is "even-tempered" or describe a man as being of "medium build." While I'm at it, don't bother with "well-mannered," or "easy to please" either. I have no idea what any of those phrases say about anyone. If they do say anything, I don't give two shits about people who fit those descriptions.
--Write about sex as though it were plumbing, or an obstetrics manual. There are plenty of things worth probing; a woman is not one of them. That is not sexy.
--Write in such a way that an entire group of people thinks, sees or does the same thing all at the same time as if under the grip of some crazy over-mind like the one at the center of Stephen King's book TommyKnockers, which was not only creepy, but gross, especially when all their teeth started falling out.
--Have a character reminiscing about winning a track pennant while an assassin is at her door. Plot people. PLOT! It doesn't write itself.
--Have people fall in love in less than a week. At first sight. With their best friend. With their best friend's boyfriend or boyfriend's best friend.
--Write super evil villains and sickly sweet nice guys. Complexity, please! Reality.
--Take a reader's suspension of disbelief too far. See if you can keep purple genies and talking dogs out of fiction.
--Believe that your book is going to be published in six months for a six figure advance and that they'll let you design the artwork. At the very least, have the humility to WONDER if it's even publishable.
--Moan about having to do "a" revision. People, WRITING is WORK. Why do you think I'm editing for a living???



At 4:36 AM, Blogger Ellen said...


At 8:08 AM, Blogger J said...

That was a riot!!

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Oh how I wish I felt humorous when giving them feedback.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

The character reminiscing about winning a track pennant while the assasin was at the door really made me laugh.

When my characters find themselves in crisis, I frequently have them take a nap (probably what I would do.) Drives my agent nuts.

Great post.


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