We all need somebody to believe in us, no matter which paths we choose to take in life. For writers, finding that support is as easy as going HERE and joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Members of this fine gourp, founded by ninja writer Alex Cavanaugh, share an IWSG post the first Wednesday of every month, which is... today.
Since I'm still knee-deep in editing, rather than write a new post before answering the question of the month, I'm gonna share a largely ignored one from June, 2011, originally titled Secrets to Spinning an Original Tale. I was a newbie blogger back then, so you could say this old post still has the tags on it... never been worn.
Thought for the day: If you can't win 'em over with facts, dazzle 'em with malarkey.
|[image courtesy of Morguefile]|
I dunno. There's something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Strident? Oh yeah, but it isn't that. And did I happen to mention she screeches? That's a real nerve-grater, for sure, but it isn't that, either. She's just too darned ... how shall I put this? She's too doggone judgmental! I mean, who made HER the judge of all she sees? Oh. Yeah. (ahem) Never mind.
Anyway, Judge Judy wrote a book with one of the best titles of all time. It's called, Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining. Priceless, isn't it? Or maybe worth, say, sixty-four thousand dollars, anyway.
And the sixty-four thousand dollar question for the day is : HOW do we writers make our readers believe we're tinkling rain??? HOW do we make the implausible plausible, the insurmountable surmountable, and the outrageous the norm? To find the answer, let's take a gander at the gurus of garbage, those writers with unsurpassed skills in turning tripe into something that passes for truth. I have no names for these people, but believe me, their skills are vast. I'm talking about those nameless instigators who post something on the Internet and then sit back with smirks on their faces while their post turns viral and essentially morphs from fabrication into fact.
WOW. How can WE harness those skills? I suggest to you ...
Three simple steps:
- Include a smattering of verifiable facts in your writing. It'll demonstrate how smart you are, and establish you as an authority.
- Write with confidence and authority. In fact, if you demonstrate ample confidence and authority, you don't have to concern yourself with facts at all.
- Never be afraid to address hot-button topics. In fact, embrace them, baby. Any segment of society with a strong enough bias about any given topic will gladly believe whatever you tell them, as long as it reinforces the beliefs and hatreds they already harbor. As for facts? Pffffft. Don't need 'em. When readers go all Judge Judy on a topic, they're in danger of developing a serious medical condition known as psychosclerosis. Otherwise known as hardening of the attitude, this is not a fatal condition, but has been known to kill conversations and end relationships. (So, how'd I do with that one? Make your malarkey-o-meter tingle?)
|WOOP! WOOP! WOOP!|
Seems to me, we should all learn, not necessarily to be Judge Judy-ish, but at least to learn to take the things we read with a grain of salt. But oh, what we write... now that's another story. We don't WANT our readers to reach for the salt shaker. We want to spin locations, characters, and stories that are so well-seasoned and believable, no extra salt is ever needed. How can we do that? Let's backtrack to those three steps:
- By all means, weave verifiable facts into your story. Unless you're creating a fantasy world that defies our laws of physics, it's best not to buck science. Two examples where writers tried to do just that: In one book, the good guy electrocuted the bad guy by tossing an old capacitor (that he'd been carrying in his pocket for decades) into the sink while the bad guy was washing his hands. WOOP! WOOP! WOOP! Ain't gonna happen. In the second case, the damsel in distress successfully prevents her pursuers from following her by removing the valve stems from the tires of their car ... and thereby flattening the tires! More WOOP! WOOP!
- Writing with confidence and authority is always a good bet, even if you have to fake it. (Also known as flying with the eagles when we feel like a chicken on the inside.)
- And finally, the hot-button topics. Well, that's up to you. Some excellent books have been written about some of these topics, and they've been written with great sensitivity and intelligence. And I already know that all of you have sensitivity and intelligence out the wazoo, right? Now, I'm no Judge Judy, but if you DO tackle one of these hot potatoes, please rely on verifiable facts, okay?
|After all, too much salt isn't good for anyone.|
Okay, now for the question of the month: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?
I'll just address the reading side of this question, because I honestly can't think of any writing or editing peeves. (Probably because I'm in the driver's seat when it comes to those areas, while as a reader, I'm locked in the back while somebody else does the driving.)
Anyhow, the number one thing that makes me want to throw a book across the room while screaming like a banshee is (insert drum roll here) cliffhanger endings. ARRRRRRGH!!! It's absolutely infuriating to purchase a book and invest the time in reading it only to be cheated out of a proper ending simply because the writer wants to manipulate readers into buying the next book. (or books) I get it. Series are hot, but please, please, please provide a resolution of some sort at the end of each book. Aim for readers' satisfaction, not frustration.
#2 I also wish writers would ix-nay the unnecessary repetition. Really, I got the point the first time... there's no reason to tell me fifty more times that the chick has blue eyes with long eyelashes. (or whatever) Beating issues to death by repeating them over and over is insulting to readers' intelligence.
#3 Based on the earlier part of this post, it should come as no surprise that blatant errors and an absence of common logic annoy the stuffing out of me, too.
Like everybody else, misspellings and grammatical errors stick in my craw, too, but the three issues already highlighted are at the top of any reading pet peeve list for me. How about you?
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.