Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chapter One: still making the same mistakes

I was working on the first chapter of the First Draft Sprint manuscript and yet again, I find myself guilty of the following:

1. Too much unnecessary info. I cut out 20 lines of text in the first five pages. That's almost a whole page. Out of five. In my case, it was too much interior monologue. Which brings me to

2. The urge to tell too much backstory, to explain motives and goals too soon. I blame my love of my characters. I think they're interesting, fascinating people, and I want everybody to know that, and why. But tell too much in the beginning, and what does the reader have to learn?

3. I tend to leave out description almost entirely, which leads to a very vague sense of time and place (and therefore possible reader frustration).

4. The Talking Head Syndrome. I am so guilty of this, I hang my own head in shame. I love to write dialogue, and too many times I find myself having characters just yakking away without any activity going on - the equivalent of sitting in a coffee shop having a gab. Now, the discussion may be fascinating once you know the people but it can be a drag if you don't. Put that with a lack of description and ay yi yi. They could be in a whole other dimension for all my reader knows.

You know, I've been at this for twenty years, but it's clear that the only difference between me and a fledgling writer is not so much the mistakes I make as that I know to look for and (try to) fix them.


Kimber Chin said...

I feel better now for making the same mistakes again and again.

Like you, the only difference is I correct them BEFORE I send them to the publisher.

I'm a talking head person too.
I love dialogue.

Kaye Manro said...

This is such good info for those of us who are quilty of this. Thanks, Margaret.