Tuesday, October 2, 2007

there goes half my novel

E. E. Knight has posted a list of 20 genre writing sins to his blog. He writes:

"It's amazing how many of the same mistakes you see over and over again. Different authors, same flaws.

Anyway, here's a list of errors I (and some editors I know) see over, and over, and over again, ad desperandum. Plus a few that maybe just bug me."

I especially like:

2. Logorrhea: Having something between two and a dozen words pull the weight of one. I can't tell you how often I read stuff like "Thinking back on her past, she remembered her childhood of twenty years ago, when as a six-year-old..."

16. Plot on rails: Too often amateur writing sets up what the protagonist has to accomplish at the beginning of the story and sticks to that right to the end. That may work for some shorts, but in a novel you want events to move the goalposts. It allows the character to discover what she or the world really needs, rather than what was thought at the beginning. Remember, Frodo didn't set out from Bag End thinking he'd have to go to Mount Doom, he was just trying to get the ring out of the Shire and meet Gandalf. A story is not a baseball game, objectives and rewards can change with the character and situation. Go watch Run Lola Run if you don't believe me.