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Monday, October 08, 2007

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part I

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Self-sabotage. I’m not talking about ‘accidentally’ deleting your My Documents folder in a fit of post-critique frustration or sending a nasty email to an editor, I’m talking about writers unintentionally sabotaging their own stories. I’ve found three main things that writers do that works against them in their story.
The first one is letting the reader know what’s going to happen before it happens.
Have you ever watched a movie with a friend and it’s getting a little tense, the music is building and you’ve got that pillow ready just in case you need to cover your eyes, and then the friends bursts out with “He does it. Strangles her, but she’s not really dead. She’s going to shoot him and everyone lives happily ever after.”

SIGH. It’s like deflating a balloon. Pfftt, there goes the tension and it slides neatly into annoyance. I find that writers often do the same thing in their stories. They’ve got a nice mood going, some tension, the reader is enthralled in the scene and with one sentence, they blow the whole thing. Tell what’s going to happen before it happens. I’ll give you a slightly ridiculous example.

The door creaked open, sending in a cold rush of air. A shiver creaked down Terry’s spine. He watched as the two men walked into the room. They were probably Russian assassins here to murder the American diplomat with AK-47s cleverly concealed under their jackets.

Yes, it’s ridiculous, but it illustrates the problem with revealing information too soon. As a writer, you are not a giver of information as much as a keeper of information. You should dole it out as sparingly as possible, keeping it horded until you have no other choice. Let the action tell the story and wring every last drop of tension out of your story that you can.

Stay tuned for OVERSHARING, part two of my series on THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

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