Oddball Observations about Writing

Thought I'd share some odds and ends about writing that I've learned over time.

One of the pitfalls of switching back and forth between stories: mixing up character names between stories. I suppose that might hold true for reading as well.

Whenever I hear the term "creative non-fiction," I'm immediately skeptical that there's any truth to be had.

I'm not a big fan of audiobooks--unless I'm on a road trip. Nothing better to make long trips through boring scenery pass painlessly. The one thing I won't listen to is romance (unless I already know the book doesn't have detailed sexy bits). There's just something icky about someone reading those out loud to me while I'm driving. No. Just no. Favorite authors for audiobooks? Harlan Coben and Jennifer Crusie.

You don't always have to kill your darlings. Sometimes you simply need to spread them thinner. I like running gags in my stories, but they can be overwhelming if I play them one right after the other. Instead, I took a lesson from stand-up comedians. Hit the first mention of the running gag hard enough to make it memorable, then move on. Then later, when the audience/reader has forgotten about it, hit them with it again (briefly) as the punchline to another situation.

Fleshed-out villains are important. What J. Nelson Leith said about the archetypical hero/damsel/villain paradigm brings that home: the primary relationship in this triangle, the one that makes it work and allows it to exist at all, is the relationship between the Damsel and the Villain. Without a Villain, in fact, there’s no need for a Hero because the Damsel isn’t a Damsel-in-Distress.

Strong verbs make for vibrant writing, but they can be overdone. If a character is always leaping, springing, and spinning, etc., they can start to look like a whirling dervish and the writing begins to feel melodramatic.

What tidbits have you learned over time?

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