It’s time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, we share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:
Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?
Detached summaries of events. “This happened. Then that happened. Name did this. Name did that. Over the summer, these things happened. Name said this. Name said that. Infodumpy dialogue. Flashback with even more telling.”
Showing off historical research and/or how much you know about a subject, instead of naturally incorporating such details into the story when relevant. No one wants an infodumpy lesson on politics, subway schedules, or leather-making out of nowhere!
Introducing a whole slew of characters in great detail and then never featuring them again after the first 30 pages.
Over-describing things like staircases, pastries, furniture, gowns, sandwiches, opera sets, and clocks. I always suspect these writers are MFAs who were taught to overwrite.
Historical characters with anachronistically modern values and attitudes. I truly think many people under 40 have no idea just how different society was even a few decades ago.
Stopping the forward momentum each time a new character is introduced and spending pages giving us his/her backstory.
In indie books, unprofessional formatting. They clearly don’t read many books if they see nothing off about 2.0 leading, ragged right margins, spaces between each paragraph, or a copyright notice on the bottom of each page.
Why did I spend so much time learning how NOT to write like that if it’s apparently still perfectly acceptable?
Since lockdown is apparently permanent and I’m not in my own home, I have no expectations of getting much fictional writing done this year. I’ll spend the next few months checking proofs for hardcover editions of Little Ragdoll and And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away. IngramSpark had a code for free title setup, and those were the only books I had ready before it expired.
The ISBNs I bought from the Canadian IndieBookLauncher in 2014 included hardcover ISBNs, and it was high time to make use of them already.
I’ll also do one last edit of the book formerly known as The Very Next, which I somehow managed to finish the final version of despite almost no privacy or ability to go to the library in lockdown. If I were in my own home, I would’ve gotten so much more writing done! Being stuck in a crappy open concept house cheats me of even more privacy.
Planned blog post topics for 2021 (some of which I hoped to do last year but never got around to):
Film reviews of Little Caesar, both versions of The Unholy Three, the Marx Brothers’ Go West, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Within Our Gates
Writing about breeching and long pants
A series on writing about Jewish denominations (history, theology, etc.)
Handling wraparound narrative segments
How much real life to incorporate into a story, and how
When to split one book into multiple volumes
The struggle between historical accuracy and not wanting to perpetuate false info
Writing about corsets and debunking persistent myths about them
If lockdown does ever end, I’ll get to work on finishing the radical rewrite of the book formerly known as The Very Last and start the radical rewrite of Almost As an Afterthought, the only book in the prequel series I’ve not yet renamed. I’ve so many great ideas mentally plotted, but without the ability to write uninterrupted for several hours a day, they must indefinitely remain in my elephantine memory bank.
I also want to get back to A Dream Deferred and finally finish it already, and start work on the long-postponed third book about Jakob and Rachel. Its title too will come from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.