After constructing over 400(ish) posts on the art of writing, I’ve started to see some patterns. I feel like I’m always mentioning the same things and I worry about repeating myself. However, I realized that I say a few things over and over again because they’re important and they are the building blocks of writing a good story. Researching these topics and coming up with the same results has improved my writing over the past year and a half and I hope I have helped you. As a summary of all these posts, I’ve come up with the 3 biggest writing mistakes that MANY novelists make.
Weak character development
Character development is one of the most important things to focus on when it comes to writing. In order for people to care about your story, they must care about your characters. Do whatever you need to do to work on character development. Read blog posts, get books from the library, fill out character forms, etc. Developing strong characters is so important and crucial to any story. Here are a few posts I’ve done myself to get you started.
Being too wordy, over describing what’s going on, and over writing scenes is something that nearly every writer does. This is okay in your first draft, but you need to remember to edit these things down later. If you can say something in two words instead of a paragraph, do it. Don’t overuse adverbs and adjectives. Describe only what is necessary to your story or else you’ll drag it down and bore your readers.
How much you need to plan can vary, but it’s hard to jump write into a full length novel without any preparation. If you’re having plot problems, this might be because you haven’t planned enough. Take the time to prewrite and brainstorm before you begin writing. It will save you time and frustration later on. If you spend a good amount of time planning, you’ll also get your creative juices flowing. You’ll come up with great ideas that you might have missed otherwise.
It’s amazing that people will see a kid yelled at or manhandled by a parent and say “It’s not my business, you can’t tell someone how to raise their kid” but if someone lets their son wear a dress it’s a public discussion.
They call each other E. Elvis picks wildflowers near the river and brings them to Emily. She explains half-rhymes to him.
In heaven Emily wears her hair long, sports Levis and western blouses with rhinestones. Elvis is lean again, wears baggy trousers
and T-shirts, a letterman’s jacket from Tupelo High. They take long walks and often hold hands. She prefers they remain just friends. Forever.
Emily’s poems now contain naugahyde, Cadillacs, Electricity, jets, TV, Little Richard and Richard Nixon. The rock-a-billy rhythm makes her smile.
Elvis likes himself with style. This afternoon he will play guitar and sing “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” to the tune of “Love Me Tender.”
Emily will clap and harmonize. Alone in their cabins later, they’ll listen to the river and nap. They will not think of Amherst
or Las Vegas. They know why God made them roommates. It’s because America was their hometown. It’s because
God is a thing without feathers. It’s because God wears blue suede shoes.
With All Due Respect
Emily Dickinson fell in love with women And Elvis got his licks from Black folk. Respectfully, if there is a God (and only one God) The fuck would It need shoes for?
If there is a Heaven, undoubtedly Emily is one of its queens Blissfully happy With Kate, or maybe Sue. She is not sexless; she has desires And now there is more than poetry she can do with them. When she does receive company She probably hangs out with Gertrude Stein Sits out on the porch with Alice B. Toklas And Sylvia Rivera.
In any idea of Heaven I care for The music is played by anyone who loves it But crowds flock to the people who made it Not to the people who marketed it best The acceptable white face (if not hips) of blues.
By the end I imagine Elvis probably just wanted to be left alone for a while anyway.
Someday he will emerge, and maybe he won’t be thin and young Maybe he’ll still be fat and wearing that godawful jumpsuit Because he liked jumpsuits And nobody will care.
Because if a God is running around like some kind of heavenly bookings agent Finding people cabins and shit to live in If It exists I prefer Heaven not be exclusively populated
By de-sexed bisexuals, white bluesmen, And a God who has to wear shoes to get around.
And maybe someday their hometown will be as safe For fat dudes in rhinestones, Black musicians Queer people Poor people Maybe even people who don’t believe in God But not without a little more breadth of imagination When it comes to picturing Heaven.
my dad died from ALS when i was 3 years old. he was 36. my mom was 33. that was 30 years ago. now i’m the same age my mom was when my dad died. and there is still no cure for ALS.
this is what happens when you have ALS: your muscles slowly stop working, one part at a time. for my dad, first he couldn’t use one of his hands. then his arm. then the other arm. then he couldn’t walk. then he couldn’t stand up. then he couldn’t talk. then he couldn’t swallow. then he couldn’t breathe. then he was dead.
this all took about two years. he was diagnosed when i was about one year old. the only memories i have about my dad are of an inert body in a wheelchair or lying in a bed with a bunch of tubes stuck into it. as i was learning to talk, he was losing the ability to speak. as i was learning to walk, he stopped being able to move. my mom often had to choose between who she was going to help go to the bathroom at any given moment: her husband or her toddler.
after my dad died, my mom took over the philadelphia chapter of the ALS association. it consisted of a shoebox full of notecards with names on it. now it is a multi-million dollar organization with a large staff. she is still in charge. my mom is one of the most amazing people on the planet, basically.
these past couple weeks have been mind-boggling. i have openly wept watching so many of these videos. i still don’t completely get how all of this has happened, but now we live in a world in which lil wayne and taylor swift and oprah and justin timberlake and weird al and bill gates talk about ALS. my mom just emailed me this sentence: “lebron james ice bucket challenge.” i mean, IS THIS REAL LIFE?! i just keep saying over and over: holy shit. holy shit. holy shit.
so far, it has raised over 10 million dollars… and counting. my mom has spent every single day of her life for the past three decades trying to get this kind of attention and funds for this disease.
i don’t care if it’s a stupid gimmick. i don’t care if people are just doing this because it’s trendy or because they want pats on the back. i don’t care if it’s the new harlem shake. i don’t care if for the rest of my life, when i talk about ALS, i have to say “you know, the ice bucket disease.”
please, everybody, please keep pouring buckets of ice over your heads. please keep donating money. please keep talking about this.
I love to hate Anthropologie furniture. In particular, the way they stage it for their website. There’s this gross fantasy they’ve created of an art student who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a paint-splattered flea market find. It’s like all their customers are aspiring to be Charlotte in Tiny Furniture (a loft-dwelling trust fund dilettante).
They’ve gone off the deep end with the juxtaposition. You know those fashion editorials every fall where models lasagned in Prada swing around street signs in Red Hook? It’s like that, but on acid. The settings are more deteriorated and the designs are more design-y. It’s like shopping from deep within Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table.
If you choose to purchase a piece of Anthropologie furniture, it will only really look right in one of three settings:
1. An alternative gallery space six weeks from opening
2. An urban cabin with faulty electrical wiring
3. A crumbling Southern plantation (soon to be deemed “the new loft” by the NYTimes)
Let’s take a stroll through the Anthropologie furniture section together. What’s for sale today?