I was watching American Idol the other day and I noticed something: there are the contestants who love critiques, and then there are the ones who HATE THEM WITH A FIERY PASSION. They think their singing is already so perfect, so how dare Harry Connick Jr. criticize it?
As artists we LOVE to highlight our strengths. Shouting out our bad points won’t get us agented or sell our books, after all. But I firmly believe we can’t be our best until we acknowledge our weaknesses. Only when we pinpoint what needs help can we actively work to change it and better ourselves.
So, in the interest of making us all thoroughly depressed, I’m going to force us to highlight all our bad writing qualities today! (It’s fine, we’ve all got them, and we’re all friends here. This is a no judgment zone.)
Here are mine:
Not necessarily run-ons, but I have a bad habit of jamming one too many descriptive words in a sentence. Sometimes knowing the color of something isn’t necessary!
Whether it’s a protagonist who’s too preditably “evil” or says something “sinister” or a side character I fall short of fully developing, I’m learning to make sure every single person in a MS is authentically REAL. Even if they’re not a major character, they still need a real history (even if no one knows their backstory but me.)
I think a great example of this is Monica, in Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. She repeated the same three words throughout the ENTIRE BOOK. It was brilliant and could have gone so, so wrong, but Sarah Dessen really created an in depth character.
Lack of tension.
I hate confrontation and uncomfortable moments. Therefore I don’t like putting my characters in awkward situations. Which results in boring moments. Now I’m learning to list out all the tense moments ahead of time before drafting.
Since the ideas come when they come, I just word-vomit them onto the page. Learning how to trickle out backstory definitely doesn’t come easy for me.
My instinct, much like the info dump, is to introduce everyone in my main character’s life all at once. “Hey, this is my mom, dad, uncle, cousin, best friend, boyfriend, mailman…” Doesn’t work!
So, what are your writing weaknesses??