Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weeds

Even those with a black thumb (like myself) we know those with a green thumb spend their days picking weeds so their favorite flowers bloom every year.

The same goes for novels. We have to spend our days cleaning up punctuation, grammar, and plot to make sure their the best novel they can be.

We want to be proud of our work. Those green thumbs are looking for yard of the month as us writers are looking for a place to call home.

Every one of us has certain problem areas that, no matter how hard we try, it still seems to catch up with us. I work hard on character development but sometimes they still come out as cardboard cut-outs.

Flat characters is something I'm working on and improving. Every time I write they get deeper. For me, outlining is the key. Reading my old stories shows how far I've actually grown.

I now, to help myself, do pages and pages of character development. Half my journals are intricate details about them. From foods they're allergic to, all the way to why they like on polka-dot socks! Every thing may not benefit the reader but it helps me connect on a deeper level.

Watch out flat characters, you won't survive a day in jenland.

What are the weeds you pick out the most?

22 comments:

Jess said...

I've got a few characters who are completely cardboard. It's pretty sad.

Angela Brown said...

Well, I have to say I like your weeds in the analogy. I definitely have to get better with my character development but I tend to see the picture so clearly in my head and think that I've interpreted it just as vividly on paper. Yet, thank God for beta readers, I find the full translation didn't occur. I'm definitely working on that. Can't have utterly confused readers. They won't last long as fans and I certainly want my writing to be a career and not a flash in the pan.

Diana Mieczan said...

Very true, my dear. I have a few weeds as well that I'm working on. Hope you are having a great week so far. How was your Halloween? xo

Em-Musing said...

My weeds are cleaning out the cliches my characters use too often in dialog.

E Louise Bates said...

Punctuation and plot clarification are my constant weeds! I use way too many commas and ellipses, and almost always leave one or two gaping plot holes. I've even *wincing* relied on a deus ex machina once or twice in my past!

Not my most shining moments, those :-)

Teenage Bride said...

I would love to know why they like polka dot socks!!!! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

My weeds include just, really, and overwriting. I tend to end up with 110k words on every ms. Then it's cut and hack.

April said...

Hmmm, right now it's too many repeating words - then, even, just. Those are the three biggies off the top of my head.

Also, for my current WIP, it's fixing tense because the story is told (mostly) from first person present tense. That's a tricky one to maintain throughout the manuscript.

Talli Roland said...

Hmmmm... how many do you want? :) I tend to use a lot of the same words over and over and over... see?

Lindsay N. Currie said...

good post Jen! 3 dimensional characters is something we should all be working on full-time. Good luck:)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Believe it or not, flat characters! And description--good description is tough for me. :-)

E.R. King said...

We all have areas we need to work on. I tend to create complicated plot lines that lose my reader. I'm constantly reminding myself to simplify.

Meredith said...

Ugh, I have to do so much weeding when I'm revising! Awesome way to look at it. :)

Johanna Garth said...

I'm horrible at description. Funny but it's the part that I tend to skim through when I'm reading...I guess its not so surprising it would be my achilles heel.

Jamie Burch said...

For my current project it's not enough description and there are certain scenes I need to flesh out more. At lease I don't have trouble with wordiness. :)

Donea Lee said...

I think I could definitely spend a bit more time fleshing out my characters. As for weeds - weak plot points are often yanked.

Say "hello" to Michael for me!! :)

Trisha said...

My characters tend to be pretty colourful. I have other troubles, though - like writing way too much backstory, unnecessary detail that doesn't propel the plot, etc.

Jessica Lindsay said...

Oh, I have to echo Em-Musing. Cliched dialogue. Or worse, what I think is sassy, or tough, or hilarious dialogue that truthfully is unimaginative and trite. So bad! And it happens so often!

We had a writer speak at school today and he showed us the notes he wrote for his characters. He said he'd type his notes on character out, then he'd have a conversation with that character/himself and write the new stuff he learned about the character in the margins. He'd type those notes up and do it again--have a conversation, write the new information in the margins. Then type that up, and do it again. SIX times he does it! Talk about getting rich, complex characters! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I do all right with the characters. My weeds are overused words.

Nancy Thompson said...

Yeah, I'd say characters, too. And their relationships, as well. You can have vibrant characters, but if their relationships are flat or unbelievable, all that character development goes down the toilet. It's how they relate to each other that helps move the story along.

Michelle Merrill said...

Flat character's, weak conflict, and pace. Yeah, I know...I have a lot of weeds :) My favorite questions to ask my character's aren't so much favorites, but more of the "What have you been through and what decisions did you make to get through it." Characters are defined by their decisions because it's those decisions that will guide their path and choice making in the future :) Good luck with those weeds!

Nisha said...

Very Nice !
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