Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Writer is Evolving!

If you think that's a weird post title, that's because it is.

I'm referencing the Pokemon video games, specifically the screen that shows your Pokemon evolving from one form to the next. It's a magical moment for people who play this game. The cute little animal they've cared so much for and trained so diligently has finally transformed into a more powerful and capable beast.

Writers evolve, too. But our evolution is usually less obvious and isn't accompanied by suspenseful music.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling brave enough, I'll go back and scroll through old short stories and manuscripts. It can be helpful to take a look at how far I've come. (It can also make me cringe and close the documents before I'm even done reading them.)

Here are some things that I frequently found in drafts from years ago:

- Excessive adverbs with dialogue tags. (Example: "What a fabulous idea!" she exclaimed excitedly.)
- Lots of telling instead of showing. (Example: "I was mad at him." "Her gift made me happy.")
- Forced, unnatural character introductions and physical descriptions.
- Unneeded banter that doesn't propel the story forward.
- Too many characters in a story, many of which aren't relevant to the plot.

And lots more.

By pointing out the flaws in my early writing, I'm not saying I'm a perfect writer now, or even close to it. Currently, one of my weaknesses is that I don't describe my settings as well as I should. (Thank you to my hardworking and honest CPs for helping me see this!) I'm also guilty of dipping back into my former bad habits, such as including extra characters and occasionally telling instead of showing.

But I have evolved. I'm better than I used to be. And just like the types of Pokemon that have multiple forms, I will continue to evolve.

Fellow writers, in what ways have you evolved?


Tiana Smith said...

I definitely did a lot of telling instead of showing. LOTS of it. Also, just some really basic plot lines without any twists. Still kinda working on that one ...

Jemi Fraser said...

It's so fun to look back! I think I was the Queen of the Dialogue Tags for a while there. And thanks to my CPs I learned a lot too :)

Vanessa Morgan said...

It's frustrating to look back at old stories, because I always find myself thinking: "What if I'm writing rubbish right now without even realizing?"

Amy Saia said...

It can be so painful looking at old work. In some ways, the old stuff that I wrote before becoming a 'serious' writer reads better than the newer stuff. Anyway, kudos to you for moving on and upward. Love that!

Nick Wilford said...

I was very guilty of overly flowery writing, which I've made a big effort to pare down, especially with dialogue. I was trying to write a hard boiled thriller and my wife pointed out all the characters sounded like public schoolboys! It can be interesting to look back at old stuff to say the least, thankfully we're always evolving. :)

Anonymous said...

I can relate to all of these.

I also tried too hard to use symbolism. I also stated the obvious when I should've let the reader figure things out.

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