Sunday, June 24, 2012

Who I Don't Want To Be

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about what I want to be.  The things I want to see happen in my career.  About where I want to go with it, and how I want my readers to feel while they're reading my books.  I have a lot of goals for my writing, and I think I've shared each and everyone of them on my blog.

Lately, though, I've been reading a lot of books, and I've been watching some shows, and I've started to come across things that I don't ever want to do with my writing.  Things that I see in other people's writing that makes me hit my head on the wall or wonder how they've managed to get published (or had their work turned into a tv show) when there are so many talented writers out there that struggle to even be recognized as writers.

So today I decided that instead of focusing on what I want, I'm going to tell you what I don't want:

I don't want the stupid ball to be a main character in any of my books or scripts.  For those of you who may not know, the stupid ball is the thing that some characters in books or shows carry (or throw up in the air repeatedly to have it land directly on their heads) that seems to be the only explanation to why they're suddenly stupid.  I've seen characters tossing this ball around like you wouldn't believe.  Intelligent, believable characters suddenly become the stupidest beings because it's too early in the book or show for them to figure out what's right in front of their faces.

I don't want to have to use Plot Devices in order to make my stories work.  A plot device is something that randomly pops up that most people think is coincidence.  It isn't.  It happened because the writer just realized that they had no way to make that work, and they just threw it in there because they wanted to.  It's generally unbelievable, and often is often accompanied by the stupid ball.  If you've ever read a book, or watched a show and thought 'well, that was awfully convenient', congratulations.  You've just discovered a plot device.

Characters who have one role in the entire novel and that's it.  Everyone knows these characters.  They're the ones that show up in a novel, and you think they're important, but it turns out that they're only there to serve one specific purpose (I remember reading one novel where a female character was there who could climb, and that was literally all they did.)  These characters never grow, they never become important, and I, for one, always find myself feeling just a little disappointed.

I don't want my ending guessed within the first chapter of the book. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.  I've never guessed the ending that quickly, but I have done so by the middle of the book.  Then the rest of it isn't a surprise.  On more than one occasion I've read the ends of books actually hoping I was wrong, only to find out I wasn't.  This goes for tv shows, too.  If I can guess who the killer is the minute they step onto the screen, you need to have a few more twists to throw me off the scent.

My biggest pet peeve, and the thing that I don't want the most desperately is plot holes. Sometimes these are really hard to avoid.  Best practice is and will always be to have other people read your work to ensure there are as few of these as possible.  I can't imagine a single person out there who has read a book rife with plot hole and hasn't wanted to throw it across the room (in a bad way)  Plot holes are nasty little buggers that pop up and have your readers thinking 'yeah, but why didn't they just do this'.  They're hard to see because most writers spend their time thinking of complex solutions and miss the simple ones right in front of their faces.

That's my list, so far.  All the things I don't want to see in my work.  I don't know that I'll be able to do it.  In fact, I think my characters may just be prone to holding onto that stupid ball just a little bit too long, but I'm working on it.

What do you never want to see in your work?


  1. After reading this I can't agree more, those have to be the top things that I hate the most when reading and watching TV... I always tell myself while I'm writing that I'll never use them, but there have been times where I have come across when I've used a Plot Device at least in the first draft, I usually remove during my editing process. When I use plot devices I get this strange feeling telling myself not to do it and find another way, which usually leads to some kind of form of writers block which has been known to last 1 week to 3-6 months, which of course drives me crazy.

    1. That can be pretty frustrating. I would say, just get through that first draft without worrying too much about any of these things. First draft is the hardest part, so you've really got to power through's during the editing that things like that need to be fixed. Seeing them in published works, though, really annoys did nobody catch those things?? Why are they acceptable??