Monday, August 26, 2013

Trying too hard.

As writers, we want to captivate our reader. We want to create characters that stay with that reader for weeks—or, hopefully—years to come. We want snappy dialogue and intriguing plots (including romance). But one of the problems I’ve faced the most? Trying too hard. Way, way too hard.

With dialogue: Yeah, you want that snazzy script. What you don’t want is something that’s chop-chop-chop, as if you have actual movie action and a theatrical trailer narrator along with it. Your reader can’t see the action: they have to imagine it. It’s better to keep things a shade slower and not to be so dramatic.

With mystery: If you have a mysterious plot or characters, you’ll want a certain level of mystique around it. But what I’ve caught myself doing over and over again with The Bridge Between Heaven and Hell is while I try to create an aura of mystery, I often just end up being vague. I myself can’t even remember what I was trying to say. (If the author doesn’t even know, how on earth will the readers?) You have to be clear.

With romance: I’m convinced that less is better. Not nonexistent, of course, but it amazes me how much more of the romantic air you get when you don’t constantly give attention to certain characters’ rapport. In letting my characters tell their individual stories and throwing in a few clues, I have managed to create a vibe that’s almost “outside,” alerting readers to “root” for this romance.

Not trying is not what I’m trying to say here. Of course you need to put effort into your novel or story. But trying too hard—blech. Dialogue becomes choppy. Mystery: “What in the world is she talking about!?!” Romance is overdone.

Sometimes, believe me, it’s better to leave it all alone.

16 comments:

  1. "With romance: I’m convinced that less is better."

    YES! YES! YES! I completely agree with this, Hannah. True when a book is branded a rom-com, this balance can be difficult but its not impossible. My WIP's are not really romances but both are contemporaries. The one I am not sure I'll include romantic interests, the other will have some but won't be overwhelming as the heroine needs to heal from a broken past before she can find love.

    Great post - we do try too hard much of the time. I know I'm my own worst critic. Instead of sitting down and just typing, I overthink things - "this dialogue is awful!" "What about all the misspellings!?" and on the list goes. We need to worry less about the revising and write first so that we have something to go back and edit! :)

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    1. Oh, good! My WIP isn't a "romance" either, but it does incorporate it. (I was a little afraid of putting that "romance" bit in this post--afraid some people would think ill of me for writing a romance. . .but as I said, it's not exactly that.)

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  2. Great post! I think that trying too hard actually might be my problem! I put to high expectations for myself, and if I fall short of my expectations I get discouraged and feel like my story is blah!But anyway thanks so much for posting this. I really love and enjoy your posts on the writing journey!

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    1. Oh, thanks, Brittney! Glad you like them :) It is very hard when you expect so much of yourself.

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  3. My problem is not that I don't try hard enough. I keep thinking my stories aren't good enough. I was so excited about my contest entry, but now I worry it might not be good enough. Thing is, I know I can make it better. Maybe my problem is that I need to try harder.

    I like romance, but true romance. Not "Oh he is so handsome! I think I am in love..." Please.

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    1. I am very familiar with lacking confidence :P I'm excited about your contest entry! Do we get to read it? :)

      Yeah, that kind of romance is rather pointless. Obviously attraction is a big part of relationships, but it can't be the only part.

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    2. Yes. When I have it ready, hopefully within the next month, I'll put it on a private blog that I'll share with some people, you included. :-)

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  4. First: This is right on, Hannah. That part about the romance is something I have thought for a LONG time. People try to add romance, and end up making books almost not worth reading.
    Second: I love you, and all of your blog posts, kay? k. :)

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    1. Wunderbar :) I'm so happy people think like me. (Well, it's good they don't all the time. . . .)

      Haha. I love you too, and always get excited when you post :)

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  5. As your esteemed older sister, I would like to say that this was excellent. And probably my favorite blog post yet.

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    1. You are too magnanimous, your majesty.

      :) But it does mean a lot, so thank you! Probably more so than my other readers' comments, because you are my "esteemed older sister". (That's not to say that I don't appreciate everybody else's comments--thank you so much for them, because they do mean a ton to me!)

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  6. Right on, girl!

    Rebecca

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  7. I agree with everything you said. So, so true and great advice as well. Loved it!

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    1. I'm glad, Josie! Thanks for the comment :)

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