Writing Mistakes 3

good editorAs regular visitors know, I keep a regular list of writing tips in the front of my notebook. Or, as I more often think of them, my writing mistakes (discussed here and here), because usually I only get the tip after I’ve made the mistake. I write down the solution in my notebook in the hope that looking at that list makes it more likely I won’t make the mistake.

hulk computerUnfortunately I do tend to repeat mistakes. That said, I definitely feel like reviewing this list helps my writing process, because it means I keep previous mistakes in mind.

Next week I’ll write a little about one important lesson I’ve re-learned. Today I just wanted to mention a shorter one I thought worth considering, and that’s that a plot isn’t necessarily made interesting by combat — that sometimes the adventure is the unfolding of discovery. Often that’s the unveiling of a mystery or secret, but sometimes, as it so often is in historicals, it’s seeing the character mature and learn how the world works. She’s met the man of his dreams, but how will they get together? Or he’s going to spend the summer with his grandparents; how will that change him?

In condensed form, suitable to fit on my list, I’ve described that as “Plot unfolding through discovery can be just as exciting as plot through action.” Of course, it has to be handled properly, or it will be dull as dirt, or overwrought, or have any other number of problems. My note is just a reminder that the story doesn’t have to be one hack fest followed by another.

One Comment on “Writing Mistakes 3

  1. So true. Like the man said…

    “Never mistake motion for action.” – Ernest Hemingway

    Many stories in genres heavy on physical action, especially Sword & Sorcery, seem to take combat and derring-do as so worthwhile unto themselves that they needn’t bother to advance the story at all.
    While a little of this might be fun, just a little too much and you have a tale that manages to make headlong action-packed life-or-death situations kind of boring. The literary equivalent of waving your arms around and talking really loudly while saying nothing more than “I’m so excited!” over and over. You’re moving all over the place, but going nowhere.

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