Writer Contradictions: Why I get confused.



I’ve crammed a lot into the last year; writing the book was probably the least taxing. But more than not, in my search for publication, I have found advice confusing. And this is on top of what we learned at school compared to what we learned after. But on that note, when my daughter came home from school the other day and asked what an adverbs was, I told her to never use that filthy word again and moved her into a different class. They’ll teach anything these days.

Contradictions, ambiguities, confusion, conflicts, grey areas. And I mean grey areas, not Grey areas, because Christian Grey’s area will not fit here – or many places, apparently.

This is just an observation some of you may have come encountered the following and can relate. They probably aren’t even contradictions in the true sense, but they have certainly kept me on my toes.

Use fresh words, but always use ‘said’ as a dialogue tag.

Be creative, but be formal and submit your work as though you are not creative.

Be descriptive, but don’t use more than one adjective.

Use prose, but don’t be wordy.

Showcase your vocabulary, but don’t use big words that will alienate people.

Stimulate imagination, but if a man looks like Elvis, just say it; thank you very much.
Professionally Edit your MS, but we will edit again for you. Send us your final draft, but we will edit again for you.

Make your character consistent, but give them a contradiction.

Write 90000 words, but I want to know what your book is about in 25.

Tell us what the book is about, but don’t tell us the ending.

Send 50 pages, but one will be read.

Write what you love, but what you love must sell.

I’m only having fun. Of course, anything in life is confusing. But it’s Friday and no one should have to think too much on a Friday šŸ™‚







13 thoughts on “Writer Contradictions: Why I get confused.

  1. My thoughts on description and vocabulary.

    Description is only good if it serves a purpose, and too much of it, no matter how beautifully written, always runs the risk of losing the readers attention. I’d get upset about it, but I’d be a hypocrite. My most frequent complaint, even with my own favorite writers, is when they spend an entire paragraph describing a mountain scene or a woman’s intricate dress pattern. I only go into a lot of detail about the furnishing of a room if it is actually important to the plot or if a location/object is its own character, so to speak, within the story. For instance, I once went into excessive detail about a character’s garage, but the character saw that garage as his friend… anthropomorphized it (going to regret using that word after the next paragraph). Still, I think its far better to say “They were in a forest” and let the reader build the scene to their liking.

    Vocabulary was something that was brought into stark clarity when I asked myself if there was ever an exotic word that really improved a reading experience for me. The answer was simply: nope. When I wrote the original draft of my first novel, I had beta readers write down every word I used that they didn’t know. I ended up removing all but three, and even those I sometimes regret keeping (I kept phylogeny, pedantic, and prepubescent… in case you were curious. I just realized now that they all happen to be ‘P’ words…weird). What I eventually realized is that I had been using larger/exotic/scientific words, more due to my own insecurity than necessity. I actually thought it would matter if readers believed I was intelligent. Again, nothing could really be further from the truth. The reader doesn’t care if I’m smart, they only care if I can tell a good story. That, and if I actually am smart, not just posturing with impressive word use, it should be clear in the writing regardless.

    My two cents.

  2. So sorry for my late reply. Wow! Thank you for your lengthy attention to my post šŸ™‚ I also believed that I would have to use complicated words to show I was worthy or writing, intelligent. But it’s only through researching how to submit work, that it came to my attention that I might be overdoing it. In truth, I enjoy books where I don’t have to stop and think about what a word means. And with reading descriptions, I like it when everything is simple. Sometimes one word will help, and sometimes a basic word will work best. I guess we get pedantic about our vocab, and looking like we know what we are doing šŸ˜›

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