Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Critting for England ...

Oops, so busy reading, critting and trying to edit a bunch of my older stories, I haven't posted for two weeks. One of the things I've discovered is that there are certain things that snag so badly for me, they pull me right out of the story and I just cannot get over myself enough to carry on reading. Here's my hit list - any of them resonate for you?

1. Voice mis-match (a 'mumsy' voice then a page of blood-thirsty, bone-crunching wet and nasty action). Sorry but if the voice doesn't match up to the genre I'm not likely to get past the first page. Especially if the first character I meet is a killer. I need to be wooed by a voice fit for purpose.

2. Cardboard characters (I don't get to meet them properly before they're saving the world). Or even worse, there is a lot of description and I get told what type of character they are but I never get to see them in action or hear their thoughts.

3. Cardboard action (heroes faced with impossible odds on the first page but oh-so-easily resolved when hundreds of monsters are slain with each stroke of a magic sword). Sorry, but this just feels like a get-out-of-jail-free card and I just invested a raft of emotion for a computer game scenario? Never more than once.

4. Way too much world-building detail (especially great chunks of description, particularly when it pertains to stuff that has no bearing on the characters or the story). Who gives a monkey's whether her shoes were Prada or D&G?

5. Name soup - a cast of dozens of bit players and/or names of Places and Things, cluttering up a page and snagging me out of the action while I try to work out who/what they are.

6. Too much geography (he stood up, turned around and walked towards the door situated on the right of the room ... that sort of thing). I am snagged out of the story while my brain tries to do the visual reconstruction of whatever picture the author had in his/her mind.

7. Constant time-stamping. As with the name soup, every time you mention a time scale precisely, it snags me out of the story while my brain scrutinises this new piece of information to try and fit it into a recognisable time-line and determine whether it makes sense with my view of how long things take.


  1. Thankyou so much Jacky; that is all very helpful and now I'm going to be busy checking through and re writing scenes to allow for any of the above mistakes...which I am pretty sure is flowing in abundance through my attempt at serious writing : ) xxx

  2. Hey Jackay. Great post! I know I'm definitely guilty of many from your list except the time stamping thing. Cool, I never do that one. Cheers, Heidi.

  3. The things I've learned from you: Invaluable. Thank you for making me a better writer :)

  4. Ladies, thanks for your kind words, this writing journey is a cool metaphor for life - you just never stop learning. <3