Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Down Time

Howdy, All! I apologize for my MIA status the past few weeks. Things have been absolutely nutso in my life. I've moved, been working up a storm, celebrated a birthday (I'll never tell my real age so don't even ask!), and just all in all have been going slightly blotto from lack of time and general exhaustion. Things have got to slow down one of these days. I keep saying that anyway. :)

I wish I had something to report on the writing front, but I've barely had time to check my email. There were actually a couple of weeks in there when I didn't so much as power up my computer. Sad, I know...but what can you do? When I can, I've been brainstorming about my book and catching a few minutes of reading. It hasn't been much. A few pages here and there, but despite that, I've managed to finish a couple of books. They haven't been the greatest, but I always say you can learn a lot from bad writing.

So, as always, I like to bring these things here to poke a little fun at. :)

1. The fastest way to get from point A to Z is to NOT stop at point B, C, D, E...etc etc.

The current book I'm reading. *shakes head* I'm not sure why, but for some reason the author likes to stage direct her characters... TO DEATH.

For example... (And this is randomly made up to illustrate my point)... she'll have her character make a cup of tea. The character will open the cupboard, pull out a box of tea, lift the lid, pull out a tea bag, detach the little lipton square from the bag, grip the square firmly between her thumb and forefinger, and then dunk it into a cup of hot water.

*Head* *Desk*

Let me tell you... after 100 pages of reading this kind of play by play I wanted to grip the book in my hand, raise my arm, take a pitcher's stance, and hurl said book at the wall.

That said, it's a great reminder that readers Are. Not. Stupid. Trust them to fill in a few of those blanks.

2. Pick your details. Another author I've been reading REALLY likes to describe random people and things...in detail. I'm sorry, but the fact that your character is standing in line behind a girl at the grocery store might be interesting if the girl happens to play some part in your story. If that were the case, it might be important to explain in vivid detail just what shade of red her skirt is, how her eyes match the summer sky, how her voice is like a wind chime moving on a soft breeze. Maybe. But if this woman is simply in line in front of your character? Not so much.

This author is seriously attempting to give a full technicolor picture of EVERYTHING around her characters. The story itself started to get lost in all.

Pick your details.

3. Dialogue. Dialogue. Dialogue. When's the last time you heard modern teenagers use the word besotted in a conversation? Yeah, 'nuff said. Be realistic with your dialogue. Most people speak in contractions, most people use slang. Keep it real.

These are just a couple of things that are being reinforced for me. It's a good thing to be reminded of things you should try to avoid. So while I may not be actively writing at the moment, I'm still learning and growing. And I know the next time I sit down to write, I'll have these things in the back of my mind. :) So yeah, I'm having some down time, but it's not exactly a waste.

Hope all is well with everyone... hopefully I'll have some more WIP related news soon.


  1. It happens - "real life" getting in the way of our writing fun!

  2. I feel your "I need an extra five hours in a day" pain. One part-time job, one internship, one three year-old, the small matter of actually writing something...yeah. Where's the wine?!

    I hope things calm down for you soon. And yes, very much agree about needless detail in writing. It's one thing to use a bit to add voice -- in places -- but quite another to let it fill up space regularly.

  3. Missed you Jen!
    And oh man, I know exactly how you feel - copy edited half a book for someone a while ago who did exactly that. "She drove down X Street, put her flicker on and took a left onto Y Street. Driving two blocks, she stopped in front of the house. She turned off the car, opened the door and stepped out." And on and on... Excruciating!

  4. Your down-time has definitely led to some very useful observations :) All three of those are things that should be remembered over and over by every writer, so thanks for the reminder. You're still ahead of me- I haven't read anything in weeks, and it's starving me even more than not writing. Here's hoping life settles down for everyone very soon!

  5. Down-time is sometimes very necessary for the writing, Jen, and I can see you've not wasted yours. Hope life eases up for you soon, and that you find some better books to read. Gah!