Diversity, show-don't-tell, and a query tip.

Oh wow, okay. It's been a very long time since I posted anything, but that doesn't mean I haven't been up to a lot. I've just passed the 50k mark on my current book titled Only Gingers Can Be Witches. I'm coming up on the official start of editing The Sometimes Sword version 2.0 (which some of you will remember I finished about two months ago). I'm now sitting on 4 novel-length works in my (admittedly short) writing career, which is a little mind-boggling to me. Hopefully I will be ready to begin querying The Sometimes Sword by the end of this Fall.



Okay, enough on the updates. I just wanted to really quickly mention some of the interesting tidbits I've discovered while attending some conventions, talking to authors, and following agents on Twitter. First off: some agents are actually turned off by a writer including the phrase "writing is my passion" in their query letter. I kid you not. They feel that it states the obvious, and gives the impression that you think you're better than other writers because you have "passion". I didn't really expect that, but hey, the more you know....

This isn't my photo. I stole it.
Second: When writing about race, don't be afraid to come right out and say "she was black", or "I could tell from his accent that he was from South America". There's nothing wrong with people belonging to a different culture or ethnicity than the writer or reader. You shouldn't shy from coming right out and acknowledging that your character is from China or Korea (obviously, make sure you are being accurate). Cultural diversity is a cool thing, not something to tip toe around. No more of this "eyes shaped like almonds" or "skin the color of dark coffee" nonsense. (Unless of course, your book needs flowery prose, in which case, include any descriptions you like. Just, you know, don't pussy foot around the subject of ethnicity or cultural background. Embrace it.) Now that being said, be sure to do your research first. Uber political correctness is not what I'm suggesting, as I find the whole thing annoying, simply be aware of what different groups prefer to be addressed as. Don't take words from your 80 year-old grandma's vocabulary.

Third: try your best to show, not tell. I know every one of you have heard this one before, but it's becoming something of a worry to me. I'm currently reading a book (by an author I respect, so I won't say which) that breaks this rule. Over and over. And over. Then again. It's gotten so bad, it's getting hard for me to finish the book. The constant info dumping in the character's dialogue is awkward and clumsy, and I find myself rolling my eyes every page or so. I want to "see" things happen, experience them. I don't want to be told.

On a related note: please, please, please be aware that many readers don't want to sit for five pages while you describe someone pouring tea, or playing cards with themselves. Especially if it's a difficult to learn card game. If you want to explain the intricacies of a game, you should write an instruction manual for Parker Brothers and get paid for it. Don't make the reader suffer through chunks of book where they learn nothing and the story doesn't go anywhere.

Anyway, there's my thoughts for today, I hope you find them interesting/not-too-stupid. What sorts of things have you been thinking about with your own writing lately?

4 comments:

  1. All of this is excellent advice. Thanks for the reminder and congratulations on the progress you've made on your book :) huzzah!

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  2. good info, thanks for sharing. Show and tell is probably the hardest, hence the reason you hear it the most.

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    1. It is, isn't it? I don't claim my own writing doesn't suffer from lack of its use, but I hope it's not as bad as some other books I've read.

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