Bad Habits

I’d like to start a series of posts that showcase habits I must break as I work through my rough draft and tighten my writing. I’ll keep these habits confined to those hindering my writing…I know the rest of my bad habits would only bore you to tears, LOL!

Bad Habit for today:

Announcing emotion.

I’m going through a scene and deleting a lot of words this evening. Words that make my word count look good, but do nothing but steal the glory of a really good line. I guess that’s why they call this a rough draft.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Dominic recoiled at her plea. Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

Obviously, this is the time to think through action/reaction, cause/effect, good/bad. It’s probably a good thing to get all my thoughts down on paper (or on the screen), but telling the emotion the character is experiencing is a big no-no.

Oh I know, it’s so easy to do. Most bad habits are. I have to make an effort to get under my character’s skin and show what they’re feeling, make the reader relate.

My reader must identify with my characters to feel their pain and joy, and everything in between.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

It’s a small fix…just a little thing. But the impact of any story is built on the little things, right?

What do you think of this bad habit? Is it yours??

Please share so we can all learn : )

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4 Responses to Bad Habits

  1. Erica Vetsch says:

    Ah, my tendency is to announce emotion too. I tend to do things like: Fear skittered up her spine. or: Anxiety knotted in her middle.

    Instead of showing the visceral action, I personify the emotion. Gotta work on that one.

  2. Yes.

    I think as I edit, I’ll just delete the first sentence of each paragraph. That should fix it all, LOL!

  3. Vince says:

    Hi Audra:

    It’s hard to break habits. Habits are happy to just wait us out. I suggest that you develop a positive, mutually-exclusive habit, to preempt the bad habit, by habit, every time.

    To cut verbiage I have found it helps to think as if you were going to write in Deep POV.

    My take:

    “Don’t kill me.” Tears clouded* her eyes as she shrank away. “I want to live.”

    “Kill her? She thinks I’m threatening her?” His closed fist began to vibrate.

    I hope you don’t mind me doing a little editing. If it is worse, please let me know.

    *brightened is a happy word. I’d pick a more ominous word to fit the mood. Tears of joy in the sun would be a good context for brightened. IMHO.

    Vince

  4. Vince, I welcome input. The quest for Deep POV is endless. Just when I think I’m I writing straight from the core of my character, I find place where I’m having multiple out-of-body experiences, so to speak.

    The good Lord gifted me with more words than the average person. I do need to cut my verbiage and your suggestion is good.

    I love your suggestion of preempting the bad habit by habit. Be conscious of the habit and chip away at its defenses.

    Thanks for chiming in! I’ll be talking about bad habit on Saturday in Seekerville. Be prepared to share!!!