Tag Archives: flaws

Serious Writing Flaws in First Draft

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I don’t like to tell other people how to write because I am no expert, but I can share my own personal experience with the process.

More than three quarters of the way through this manuscript, I went back and read a few chapters. This is a first rough draft, mind you, but I can see a tremendous amount of work in front of me.

I have a tendency to rush through TELLING you what my characters did or didn’t do. I want to spit the story out in a hurry rather than SHOWING the building of character presence.

I know a writer’s style can break the rules, and I am certain mine will. But there are some places you really can’t skimp and write effectively.

 

For example:

Which tells you most about these characters?

A) Brandi was dressing herself and applying fresh make-up as they spoke. A brunette wig would do for her plans for the day. Not too much make-up. Wearing a skin-tight, short tube skirt and a low slung sweater top, she set aside the heels in favor of her sneakers.

 

B) Brandi tugged on her hair at the mirror as they spoke. The braided black wig that she chose emphasized her African-American features, while her light coffee colored make-up delicately smoothed her Caucasian skin. A tight white tube skirt clung to an ample derrière and a low slung sweater top showed off both her heavy implanted breasts and small waist. She set aside her familiar stilettos in favor of more comfortable gym shoes to walk the streets today.

 

A)    He had thick, dark hair and tough, tanned skin.

 

B)    The Florida sun had not lightened his thick, dark hair, but had toasted and leathered his skin.

 

They don’t even seem like the same people to me. I have this vision in my mind of who these characters are, but conveying that to you properly is a challenge.

 

And emotions:

 

A)    She held her nose. “You stink. You could use a shower. They have that right over here,” she said, pointing toward the pool area.

 

B)    She turned her head, wrinkled her nose, and waved her hand in front of her face. “You smell like a chitlin boil dumped three days at the landfill! There’s soap and shampoo in the shower stalls outside by the pool.”

 

A)    After fourteen flights of stairs he was exhausted and panting. He tried to hide behind a potted plant at the end of the hall.

 

B)    After fourteen flights of stairs he was panting. He could barely walk the six feet to the end of the hall to hide behind a potted plant. His legs ached. His knees shook. Trying to stand up straight to conceal himself behind the foliage made the leaves tremble.

 

See what I mean? I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s fun work. But we’re a long way from finished with this. This could take months.

I know the right way to write. It’s just faster and easier to write the wrong way. But that’s what makes the first draft like sliding down the slide, riding the merry-go-round, swinging high through the tree limbs, wriggling your toes in the sandbox. It’s a literary playground.

I LOVE FIRST DRAFTS!

I was originally editing as I moved along and the writing process was dragging. I was getting frustrated. I feared I was going to give it up before I got the story out there. Lose it from my mind. I gave up the method instead.

Ask me how I feel about writing when it comes time to edit.

Bloggers: The Real and the Imagined

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As a nurse, especially when working as a psych nurse, we are taught to read body language, to pick up on subtle biological cues, note changed inflections and tones when listening to words spoken.  You get none of that online. Even when you are acute enough to read between the lines, it’s not the same thing.  You are working off of one sense, and your brain has to assimilate the information from there.  The other four senses are impaired.  We are all reading with impaired senses. There is no real emotion in it, only the sense of sight, you see the words, your mind has to create the rest and none of us think quite alike.  What you write is subject to interpretation by the reader. We are operating like the drunk driver.

When writing novels, we are always writing from our own perceptions, trying to convey a personality through words. Not our own personality, but the character’s personality.  Their mannerism, mood, actions, reactions, language, how they uniquely interact with the world around them. A world that we also created.

Many bloggers, especially anonymous bloggers who have created an online persona of sorts, do the same.  The ones who use a character image to write and respond to comments are really adept at projecting an image they wish you to see; like Mr. and Mrs. Bojangles (Not really characters that I know of, I am making them up for demonstration purposes). She signs her comments Mrs. B and he signs his comments Mr. B.  They take turns posting whatever they wish the world to know about the Bojangles and how the Bojangles receive the world around them.

They might really be Mr. and Mrs. Morgan down the street. He may kick his dog and she may beat her kids, you really don’t know them. Online, they are a sweet little old couple who offer advice to young people on starting a family. Then again, they may be ministers of their church and dutifully assist their parish in all manner of life’s challenges. Again, you don’t know.  You just know their online persona.

ozLike the Wizard of OZ, they are protected by a curtain of anonymity.

Do you ever wonder about the people you meet online? Surely you do.

Then, there are bloggers who write outright, open about themselves and their personal lives, their work, their talents, their writing process, their ambitions, the way they perceive the world around them, signing their writing by their real life name, posting it at the top of their blog as I do.  How well do you really know them? Being online, you don’t see their flaws of character, that they bite their nails, never comb their hair, cross their legs and & arms when seated, and smell like yesterday’s cheese. You also don’t see their strengths of character, the way they shake a hand, their smiles, their infectious laugh, the way they always hold the door for others.  You can only guess, by the words they write, what they must be like in “Real Life”.

Whether it is the “real you” or a persona that you have imaginatively created, I am truly amazed with you all, from the 25 year old unemployed Australian guy sitting in a coffee shop with the brilliant mind looking for his niche that ponders life and its meaning, to the passionate 20 year old writing majestic prose and poetry lamenting lost love, from the quirky 80 yo great-grandma who recalls history with a twist of lime, to the struggling 30-something writer who ambitiously defeats personal odds to develop an entire series of marketable books.  The guy next door, the lady with 9 kids, the satirical comedian, the girl coping with mental illness and drug addiction, you are all why I keep coming back. I love the diversity that is you, real or imagined.

The collective consciousness of the blogosphere is both mystifying and marvelous!