I’ve been trolling the blogs, the last few days, reading fiction from new/unpublished writers. I see the same thing, over and over, the same mistakes, repeated.
I don’t know why writers continue to make these mistakes. Read any article or book on modern writing and you’ll see these problems called out. Perhaps it’s that some new writers don’t read books about writing, don’t analyze their own work. I don’t know.
What I do know, is that there are some new writers who read this blog (we’re up to 80+ followers, now, with slow but steady growth), so I thought I’d go over these basic problem areas in a series of posts. I hope it starts a conversation with some of the apprentice writers out there.
From here, I see two basic classes of flaws: large and small. Sounds facile, but it’s true.
Large flaws have to do with basic, “macro” level problems. Mostly they concern the logic of the plot, structure, and characterization. For character-driven pieces, does the motivation of your characters make sense? For event-driven plots, do the events and the response-action logically follow? If the story’s structure is other than a straight-timeline narrative, is it necessary? Is the voice you’ve chosen (i.e., 1st person, 3rd person, etc.) proper to the tale? Do the characters have a backstory, or were they “born on the page?”
I may discuss these in general, but large problems are unique to the story they inhabit, and generalizations can only get us so far before they fail to be instructive.
Small flaws, however, categorize themselves pretty easily, and I’ll tackle these each in a post of their own. Anyone who has pet peeves or topics they want covered, let me know.
Of course, I’m not an Oracle of All Things Literary. I’m not a best-selling author or a professor of English. However, I do think I have some talent for writing, and thus my opinion is not without value.
Hopefully, you’ve read this blog and a few of the stories contained on these pages. If you have, you’ve formed an opinion of my capabilities as a writer and you can judge the value of my advice accordingly.
So, that’s the plan. I’ll start to wade into these dark waters in my next post.