Thursday, 5 May 2011

Knowing Your Writing Preferences

We all have writing preferences, the stuff we find easiest to write. Through lots of writing you learn which your preferences are and what the good and bad points are of that style. In the workshopping group I belong to, one writer has a tendency for poor little me, another is fond of hyper-realistic descriptions but not much action, and the third likes characters lying back in the bath and reflecting on what's just happened. And as for me...

I like writing rows. That's good, because they're dramatic and usually trigger crisis moments. But they're also bad, because I then want to write the main character doing a lot of poor little me and feeling sorry for herself.

I also like writing bad men. This is a tricky one. I find my 'bad' men attractive and am appalled when people only see the negative side of them. I have to work at making my negative characters more rounded and appealing.

I have a terrible tendency to make my main characters a bit wet and feeble. I have a BIG sticker on my screen saying Positive People Planning with Purpose and that's helpful - I no longer have to do so many rewrites. But the tendency is still there and I have to fight it, and then check carefully for it in the rewriting process.

I'm a big fan of extraneous words: that, just, really are my top three. I don't fuss about it when writing, just use the Find and Replace option at the end.

I should have been born a Victorian, as I like both melodrama and sentimentality. Both are fine in very small doses, but I have to watch my writing to check that they don't take over.

So, those are my problems. What about yours?


Jim Murdoch said...

I remember reading once about someone at Art College who only drew the creases in clothes. I think that’s me. I’m only interested in the evidence that someone has been there. I find descriptions boring, descriptions of people, descriptions of locations especially. I do, however, love writing dialogue and in my last novel I really indulged myself by writing huge chunks of it as chat logs. I have written plays (not that I’ve made any effort to get them performed) but I’m surprised I don’t do more. Some of my flash pieces are just dialogue and I also wrote a short story once in which we only hear what two people are thinking, nothing else.

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I can get stuck in endless iterations about the meaning of life, wearing a deeper and deeper groove until everyone is stupefied. My men all tend to be bad, too. Oh dear. I love writing about clothes and shopping but at least I am aware how much that could limit the appeal of my work. I've recently discovered the joy of writing rows. I think it must be the drama and the tension which is so enjoyable. My WIP has got one massive, overwhelming, screaming row in it, a meltdown. It was huge fun to write and great fun to read. I don't think I need to add any more rows to that book. Come to think of it, there was a really good row (or more?) in Nice Girls Do, and yes, Sarah, it was a really good read, so by all means carry on writing them.

Lori x said...

My characters smile A LOT. They smile to convey all sorts of things, but at least I'm aware of it and watch for it when editing!

Liz Fielding said...

Ditto on a tendency to overuse "just". I discovered this when I created a Wordle cloud of ms. I can't not do it. I just - simply - have do a search and replace at some point.

My biggest problem is that the first scene usually takes up a quarter of the word count. I have to create natural breaks!