Some people say that writing stories ruins reading for them- I’m not sure that’s necessarily true for me but just that now I can see why certain books don’t grip me and I don’t care about the characters. I just wanted to make a note of these things so I don’t do them.
I’m reading this book at the moment and it’s a real chore for several reasons- irritating because I’m obsessive and can’t just stop reading:
1. Every time I read a book now I constantly have to cross out “was” (in my mind. Not actually on the page, that would get me in trouble with the library), some of the “that” and most of the “had”. For example- nothing annoys me more than “He was stood” or “He was standing” when “He stood” is so much stronger. I’ll accept that this first one may be me being extremely knit-picky and I will overlook it if I’m enjoying a book. And don’t get me started on adverbs (I realise I’ve committed all of these in this entry).
2. Don’t tell me “He was proud” show a situation (preferably something that actually furthers the plot) where he is being proud, if his being proud is actually that important then make sure his every action smacks of it. If you tell me he’s proud and then show him acting in a way that’s not proud I’m not going to think “Oh wow- he’s really changed” I’m going to think that you don’t know your character well enough to write him.
3. Don’t give me this character’s whole background in one paragraph at the beginning- I don’t know him yet, I really don’t care about his past. Once he does something interesting then maybe I’ll care. I need to know him now, before I want to know him then.
4. If you write a sex scene then a) make sure it furthers the plot and b) at least say something new and interesting, something surprising and worth reading beyond slot A/ tab B, preferably something emotional. Try reading Elizabeth Benedict’s The Joy of Writing Sex.