Tag Archives: bad writing

Writers Beware: Would You Rather Will Get Your Pencils in a Bunch

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of January! I’m currently in Minnesota and its weather is so different than Maryland. We had a snow storm, however, the locals said that six inches of snow wasn’t that big of a deal… In Maryland, we’ve had several seventy degree days this winter.

In the spirit of wintertime, I went ice skating with friends yesterday, am planning on going snowshoeing, and am disappointed I’m leaving Minnesota the day before the yearly ice bar opens. However, one of my friends in Minnesota with me lives farther south than I do. So, I dared her to go stand barefoot in the snow for five minutes (this is a type of extreme conditioning to acclimate your body to colder temperatures). She didn’t take me up on the dare, but it got me thinking about the game “Would You Rather.”

So let’s play! I’ll ask some questions and provide my answers. Feel free to comment with your answers or post these questions and your answers on your blog. Don’t forget to link back to me! I’m excited to know what you say.

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Would you rather live your entire life in a virtual reality where all your wishes are granted or in the real world?

This is difficult! On one hand, I’ve got some pretty hefty wishes I’d love to see come true, and living in a world where everything I desire is granted seems great. However, I believe that (1) if you don’t experience the negative sides of life, you won’t fully be able to appreciate and be grateful for the positive, (2) you can’t become a better human being if you don’t work, struggle, and compromise for what you want, and (3) there wouldn’t be a sense of achievement for accomplishing anything, because you wouldn’t have to work toward anything. Therefore, you’re more likely to have a flimsy layer of self-confidence, so that if things were to ever get tough, you’d give up before you really tried. Plus, part of establishing deep, meaningful relationships is working through the tough times, and how can you ever truly know yourself, if you never face hardship or your fears.

What I’m trying to say, is that while my knee-jerk response would be to live in a virtual reality, after some thought, I’d rather live in the real world. 

Would you rather go back to age five with everything you know now or know now everything your future self will learn?

Another tough question! Hmm… I’d rather know now everything my future self will learn for multiple reasons: (1) while going back to the past and being able to change my actions and responses to various situations is appealing that doesn’t guarantee that my life will turn out the way I want it to. (2) I don’t know what type of person I’d become if I changed my past. What if I didn’t like myself? I’ve had some dark times and awful experiences and relationships, but I’m more empathetic, understanding, and less judgmental for it. (3) It’d be challenging to grow up again with all that adult knowledge…what if knowing everything I know now royally screwed up childhood’s development process? It’s a lot of what ifs, and choosing to know now everything my future self would learn could also have horrendous results, but I wouldn’t want to relive my childhood. That’s in the past; I want to move forward, not back.

Would you rather everything you dream each night come true when you wake up or everything a randomly chosen person dreams each night come true when they wake up?

 While I tend to have nightmares instead of dreams, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a random person’s dreams each night coming true when they awaken. I have no idea what types of dreams that person would have, and if anything bad happened to that random person because I chose for their dreams to come true instead of mine, I’d have trouble living with the guilt.

I’d rather fight the monsters in my dreams. Heck, I’d have some fascinating stories to tell around the campfire.

Now, some questions specific to writing:

Would you rather publish one insanely best-selling novel and never write again or publish twenty average selling books over twenty years?

I’d rather publish twenty average selling novels over twenty years. I could spend my life being a full-time writer, which is my dream job. I wouldn’t be happy not having writing in my life. It’s part of who I am.

Would you rather read a novel that is written poorly but has a fantastic story or read a well-written book with a weak story?

Both weak stories and poorly written novels irk me. After pouring so much time and energy into creating well-written, strong stories, the writing in me turns into a pit-bull and goes on the attack anytime I see plot holes, flat characters, poor grammar, etc. But, since I have to choose one, I’d rather read a poorly written but fantastic story. The writing may be contrived and clichéd, but I could get lost in the story. Shallow, plot hole-ridden stories get my blood pressure up and I often end up rewriting the story in my head (and grumbling about how such a badly written book ever made it onto the market).

Would you rather write a book that changes a person’s life but receives no mainstream success or write a novel that is wildly successful in sales but that people don’t think about afterwards?

The literary and commercial halves of me are fighting over this question. But, the commercial writer knocks out the literary one. I enjoy writing commercial fiction, and I enjoy reading it. While it may not be the most enlightening experience, I still find myself transported. Plus, being wildly successful in sales could mean that I become a full-time writer. That would be awesome.

What are your answers to these questions? Do you agree with me or not?

(Photo courtesy of Kris Williams.)

How to Deal with People Who Hate Your Writing

2124282684_81ecf64191_mAs great as it would be for everyone to love your writing, it’s not going to happen. It’s like recess in elementary school, when you want to play with anyone that’s doing something you enjoy. Just because you want to play with them, and maybe most of them want to play with you, there’s usually someone who wouldn’t rather not.

This can be harsh. Anytime you get rejected it stings, and when it comes to comments on writing, people can be brutal. They’ll tell you exactly what they think, especially now that social media is so popular. All they have to do is fill out a comment box or write a review. They don’t have to face you, or see that you’re human and have feelings that can be hurt.

Granted, this comes with writing. Negative feedback comes anytime you put yourself out there. I see it a lot on online articles. An article might be on a kid who survived cancer, but most of the comments focus on typos within the article. Or, recently, I read an article about E.L. James’ Twitter Q&A (E.L. James wrote Fifty Shades of Grey), where she was vilified. I’m not a fan of her writing, but the comments and questions some individuals presented to her were beyond rude.

One thing to remember is that writers aren’t the only ones getting negative feedback. Their writing isn’t the only type of work getting bashed. Think of restaurant servers, lawyers, store clerks, doctors, etc. There is always going to be someone who complains, someone who can’t stand what you do.

It’s important to keep in mind that getting upset over someone bashing you isn’t going to help. Nor is firing nasty comments back at them. The best thing to do is to ignore the negative comments, which is very difficult because writing is personal. You pour part of yourself into each piece you write. But, like bullies, the haters will eventually move on if you don’t react.

Since ignoring negative comments is difficult, an alternative is to complain to your family or close friends. Get your aggression out of your system with people you trust. That way, if you do respond to the reader, you’ll be more prepared to respond in a manner that defuses the situation rather than aggravates it.

As a writer, your goal isn’t to make everyone happy. It’s to write the story you envision and to make that story the best it can be.

How do you respond to negative feedback?

(Photo courtesy of Stefan Powell.)

Don’t be a Bad Writer! Learn What Good Writers Know

14753911496_29be0d1081_mMany people talk about bad writing versus good writing. Often the label of “good” or “bad” extends past the writing to the writer. There are many possible reasons as to why one writer may be considered “bad,” while another is thought of as “good.” But what is the main difference between good and bad writers?

Resilience.

Good writers are persistent. They refuse to give up. Bad writers stop when they hit a roadblock.

Most often a writer’s first novel isn’t all that great. Writing takes work, and the more you write, and the more you learn to write, the better you become at it. Writing a novel, short story, etc. is a big feat. However, writing a piece of work is only the first part. Revising and editing a piece comes after. Many times revision takes longer than writing the piece.

A writer friend of mine can write a novel in one month. Her first draft is a hot mess (she’s a pantser), which is part of the reason why it takes her months to revise. Typically, she’ll revise her novel twice before she gives it out to two to three beta readers. Then, she waits for their feedback, and when she gets that feedback, she listens to it.

Another friend of mine recently admitted that for the vast majority of feedback he receives, he simply nods his head and smiles, and then ignores whatever was said, rejecting it without any consideration. It’s not all that surprising that he is nowhere near as successful in the writing world as my previously mentioned friend.

Criticism makes your writing better. Having people other than yourself look at your work, allows you to see past your blind spots. You don’t have to be a perfectionist to be a good writer, but you do have to persevere, rewrite, and write consistently.

Bad writers don’t realize this, or choose not to.

You may have come across writers who get defensive when they receive feedback on their work. Maybe you’re one of those writers. It doesn’t help to be closed off to criticism. Yes, it can be frightening to think that your work it brilliant and then receive feedback and realize that your writing needs a lot of work. But in the end, your work will be more realistic and believable. It will have better pacing and will suck readers in. Make your work the best it can be, so that readers will stay up all night just to finish your work.

Do all you can to improve your writing. Be open to feedback and changing your work, even if that means cutting out a few chapters, eliminating a beloved character, or starting over. The goal is to make your work shine. Do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

What do you think?

(Photo courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images)

5 Ways Not to Start Your Novel

The opening pages of a novel are extremely important. They’re what readers see first, and if they’re good, they’ll catch readers’ attention and draw them into the story. However, if they don’t catch readers’ attention, then the rest of your novel will go unread. With having dedicated so much time to your work, you want readers to finish, and then recommend, your writing.

Here are five things your opening pages should not have:

  1. dog-and-hydrantSpelling or grammatical errors. If readers see typos, awkward sentence structures, etc. on the first pages of a work, they’re more likely to assume that the work is amateur, poorly written, and/or that the details haven’t been fleshed out. Perhaps the rest of the novel doesn’t have any grammatical errors, but if there are errors on the opening pages, readers will make negative assumptions about the rest of the work and will be less likely to continue reading it.
  2. sunny_days_3_by_kokoshadow-d2xwxjlWeather. This is a clichéd opening. At one point in history (see Victorian literature), opening a story with a description of the weather worked because it was new. Nowadays, weather has been so overdone as an opening that it doesn’t attract readers. Not to mention that a winding description of the weather isn’t a huge attention grabber in its own right.
  3. a53Rise and shine. There is nothing exciting about reading about how a character wakes up in the morning, goes through his morning routine, and thinks about all the things he has to do that day. The morning wake-up routine as a story opening will makes readers want to hit their own snooze buttons.
  4. gI_64173_flying dreamDreams. It’s fine to have a short dream sequence(s) within your novel, but not as your opening. When readers start a novel, they want to be grounded in the reality of the world. They believe that what they’re reading is the core information they’ll need throughout the story. They don’t want to get sucked into the first few pages only to realize that everything they’ve read was a dream. That feels like a lie and a trick.
  5. Too-much-distractionsDistractions from the main theme(s). The beginning of a piece of work should incorporate the main theme(s) of the novel. Readers should have a good idea of where the novel is going after they’ve read the opening. If readers are left confused, focused on lesser themes or idle dialogue, or overwhelmed with an information dump, that’s not good.What about you? 

What about you? Are there any types of opening scenes that make you shut a book?

(Photos courtesy of TheGoodMenProjectkokoShadow, TheJewishLady, PRWeb, and ManishKapoor.)