Author Topic: Are You Guilty of These?  (Read 4985 times)

Wolfe

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Are You Guilty of These?
« on: December 22, 2009, 12:40:55 PM »
Hacks use repeated, and specific, actions with their characters. Editors search the manuscript for these actions. If found too often, they reject the work so they can move to the next project. Those actions are:


1. Characters who always roll their eyes.

2. Characters who always sigh.

3. Characters who always smile.

4. Characters who always laugh.

5. Characters who always cry.

6. Characters who always whine or complain.

7. Characters who always curse.

8. Characters who always get drunk.

9. Characters who always win.

10. Characters who always avoid conflict.


See if any apply to your characters and correct.

On a side note, what behaviors do you see an author repeat to point of irritation? I know a famous author whose female protagonists always tuck a loose strain of hair behind their ears. And I mean once or more in all his books.

I wonder if it's code to his wife or something. . . .

Wolfe
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 12:44:01 PM by Wolfe »

Offline thatollie

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 02:22:16 PM »
1no
2yes
3no
4yes
5no
6sometimes
7no
8no
9no
10Oh God NO.
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2009, 01:05:01 AM »
Thanks, Wolfe.

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Offline Jazmin

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2009, 02:08:45 AM »
Thanks Wolfe.

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander/Cross Stitch series: I love them, but got very tired of hearing about the trail of goosebumps that Claire's fingernails leave on Jamie's skin.

Edit: And I am definitely guilty of characters that smile or sigh too much...
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 04:12:07 PM by Jazmin »
The correct usage of an ellipsis...is for the removal of greenfly from a rosebush.

Offline Jos

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 03:45:23 AM »
1 - 4 but I've noticed and I'm trying to stop it. Thanks Wolfe.

And glancing, my characters glance a fair amount.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 04:33:24 AM by Jos »
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Offline Annmarie

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2009, 03:55:40 AM »
Gosh, sometimes I can manage 1-10 all in one day. That doesn't make me an interesting character?  :)  (An intriguing thought. Is God really a hack?)

At least characters don't light cigarettes like they used to.
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Wolfe

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2009, 05:52:12 AM »
No worries.  ;)

Allow me to explain how each work and why editors dislike their liberal use.

1. Characters who always roll their eyes.

This shows cliché behavior. Although a writer may get away with one or two per novel, continual use displays weak or lazy writing. A writer should invent many methods to show annoyance or disgust.

2. Characters who always sigh.

We call this 'whining lite.' The editor and reader wants to see the character react against conflict and not react because of it. Liberal whining from any character signals wimpy behavior. And readers dislike wimps.

3. Characters who always smile.

Editors say characters that grin or smile every, other page show an affliction called Grinning Idiot Syndrome. My first editor slammed me for this one. Again, if you want your characters to show pleasure or approval, if you find yourself typing 'smiles' a lot . . . consider another action.

4. Characters who always laugh.

At no time should your characters laugh at their own jokes, behavior, or situations. Comedians know a straight face at a ridiculous event produces more amusement than a laughing one. The goal for a humorous situation is to make the readers laugh. Note how all humorous novels never show a character who laughs. For humor, write the novel as though the characters believe they're in a tragedy or drama. Notice how all humorous novels do this.

5. Characters who always cry.

Same situation as above. You want your reader to cry for the characters. Avoid having the character cry for themselves. If the character cries, and often, the effect reverses for the reader. Again, it reads as wimpy behavior. The one situation allowed is at the end when a character's development, resolution, and journey concludes. When this happens, it breaks the emotional dam in viewers and readers. Consider examples such as Alice Walker's The Color Purple where Shug Avery reconciles with her estranged father (view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7ZT5sajkys) and James Cameron's ending in Titanic where the other characters, who listen to Rose's story, cry and how Rose never cries for herself. And for God's sake, enough with the single tear running down the cheek!

We'll stop there for now.   8)

Wolfe
« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 03:35:41 AM by Wolfe »

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2009, 06:35:46 AM »
Wolfe, is it fine if the character in my Novella avoids conflict at the start, only to
step by step develop his character into someone who faces conflict head on?



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Wolfe

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2009, 06:50:20 AM »
Absolutely.

Many novels develop a weaker character, in the beginning, into a stronger and better character toward the end. A novel needs character change and development. The more drastic the development and change, the better the novel's journey.

Good question.

Wolfe

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2009, 06:51:38 AM »
Thanks.  :)
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Offline ed

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2009, 03:07:38 PM »
Hacks use repeated, and specific, actions with their characters. Editors search the manuscript for these actions. If found too often, they reject the work so they can move to the next project. Those actions are:


1. Characters who always roll their eyes.

2. Characters who always sigh.

3. Characters who always smile.

4. Characters who always laugh.

5. Characters who always cry.

6. Characters who always whine or complain.

7. Characters who always curse.

8. Characters who always get drunk.

9. Characters who always win.

10. Characters who always avoid conflict.


See if any apply to your characters and correct.

On a side note, what behaviors do you see an author repeat to point of irritation? I know a famous author whose female protagonists always tuck a loose strain of hair behind their ears. And I mean once or more in all his books.

I wonder if it's code to his wife or something. . . .

Wolfe

Excellent post wolfe.


Offline A.J.B

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2009, 07:23:50 PM »
I don't consider myself guilty of those actions too often as I was already under the influence that 'generic' expressions would get me across as a bland writer who merely wanted to tag something extra onto the 'he said' bit.

I do find myself guilty of using 'Tom was distraught, that much was evident in the way he held himself'.

I use the 'way he held himself' line a fair bit, but all of what i consider generic or overused will be whittled out after I complete the first draft. They are only there in the first place so I can continue on with the tale. I always find I can think of better words when reading through.
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Offline Don

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2009, 07:29:55 PM »
Quote
8. Characters who always get drunk.

So much for my autobiography. Damn.  ;D

Thanks, Wolfe.
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Offline Max Zvyagintsev

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2009, 01:22:43 AM »
I'd hate to be in a situation where you have 10 characters in a story, each of which either always, smiles, laughs, drinks and every other factor you've mentioned Wolfe.

Notice this often in dialogue tags. Guess you'd better stick with "said" for safety in the case.  ;D

Great post, Wolfe.
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Offline hanabichan

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Re: Are You Guilty of These?
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2009, 11:25:30 PM »
Thank you for that post.  Definitely something I'll keep within arm's reach.
I think I'm fairly guilty of 9 and 10.  :(
Something I need to work on.
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