It’s been a few months since I wrote my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel, and sadly I’ve had a few false starts in the editing department. In other words, back when I’d been writing it, I was thinking I’d have something to show off about April: I’d been planning to start serializing it about now. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.
Yet like any great effort, lessons were learned. There may not be an epic novel waiting to appear on this blog (not yet anyhow) but I did come to an understanding about the nature of words, how I write, and (I think) how I can write better. And that’s a good thing.
One big lesson I’ve learned –and this has become glaringly clear with every effort I make to clean up the scribbles I made back in November– is that (apparently) I write like a teenage girl. No, all offense to teenage girls aside (though none of them are reading this blog so we can probably say what we want in that regard) the problem with my writing is the descriptive emoting. I make the error — as someone like Chuck Palahniuk would probably accuse me of– of writing feelings and thoughts.
So and so felt such and such.
This character was sitting and thinking this and that.
Which is garbage. If you read writing that tells you (too often) how someone is feeling or what they are thinking then that was either written by (a) someone too lazy to write properly, or (b) a teenage girl.
Of course it’s the easiest thing to write. How do you descriptively write someone’s mood? How do you put words on a page that imply some characters innermost thoughts?
I’ve been trying to play around with a way to learn to do this better, and so lately I’ve been writing a comic strip — without pictures. Or, that’s how I like to think of it.
I started pondering how I could force myself to write better … as in, how could I write without using the crutch of this character was thinking that-thought-there or this other character was feeling blah-blah-blah. It’s not simple. You get lazy. You fall back. You try to juggle a story with a plot with a setting with character development and you almost can’t help but get lazy. Writing good thought-less and feeling-free text is a muscle that needs to be exercised, but like your core-training when you are working out, it’s both the most important and the last considered.
Writing comics (and forgetting about the actual drawing of pictures to go along with them) is like core-blasting, power-planking, mega-crunches for your writing muscles. Comics are fifty-fifty, dialogue-action. There are thought bubbles, sure, but if you can’t picture a scene with anything but two characters thinking things at each other, it’s a crappy comic strip. Really crappy.
So I’ve come up with an idea, and I’ve been poking it. I’ve been writing it like a comic script. Dialogue with some art direction to fill in the gaps. No thoughts. No feelings. And no unicorns or butterflies or dolphins, because again… not a teenage girl.