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Do Your Fight Scenes Need More Punch? How to Write Fight: Sentence Length

[Part One of a Three Part Series — Coming Up: Let the Reader Do the Heavy Lifting, and FINESSE: Making a Fight Experiential]

How to Write Fight isn’t a new topic.  Most of the topics I choose to write about aren’t new.  You can find articles about them in books and in blogs all over the internet, but writers new and old still ask the same questions.  Why is that?

It’s not for lack of access to the information, because we can all Google well enough for Google to take pity on us now and then.

Google Fight Search

However, how to write a fiction novel is a completely different story. (I’m so sorry. Q.Q)

Then what keeps us asking the same questions again and again?

Well, I’ve read more than a few articles on “how to write fight” so far, and while they all tend to have very nice observations from a reader standpoint, I feel like most of them lack a lot in the “how” department of “how to” for writers.

Avoid “generic settings”, “no casual conversations”, “general believabilty”.  These are all important points — I’m certainly not disagreeing with them–, but they are not the HOW of HOW TO.

So what is the how?

The first step is probably the step you all know the most:

1. Short Sentences

You know this one, but do you know the why of this one?

The passage of time.

Readers feel the passage of time with every word they read.  The longer it takes them to reach the end of a sentence or thought, the more time they feel has passed between the last action and the next.  So, when you have long purple prose describing things which are (no doubt) essential to the story, the reader feels more time has passed than if you give them a few simple passages about what exists.

For a fight, this means short, choppy, sharp sentences that convey the character of an action as much as the speed with which it happens.

 A little one fell.  Olem’s hammer fell harder.  The bodies piled up at his feet. 

A shield flew toward him in a screaming rage.  It splintered, exposing its master’s chest.  Also gone; a cavity where a man had been.

Two more screamed from behind.  The long hammer rose above his head to greet them in a heavy arc. 

One, two! 

Their screams joined the silence at his feet.

The blows weren’t accurate, but then, they didn’t need to be.  He lumbered through their ranks, breaking their force into hopeless shards.   

Not only does this read as a brutal fight, it reads as happening in mere instants.  One swing, another swing.  No time to process the violence left behind; just an impression.

Sentence length is directly proportionate to the perceived passage of time.

See its opposite, here:

A smaller fighter approached from the rabble.  His armor gleamed like new; likely little more than a boy, and a recruit at that.  It would be just like the count to recruit from the children of his county, conscripting them and doing little more than hand them a sword and a pat on the back before shoving them to the front line.

The boy had fought his way to the fore with barely a scratch on him, but balked at the size of the giant before him.  His eyes grew wide with terrible realization, but the hammer was already in motion.  He was dead before he hit the ground.  The hammer chased him down to splatter the contents of his helm across the already blood-soaked ground.

An older man, one with a shield — not likely the child’s father, given the cast of his features–, came screaming from the chaos to his right. 

Olem’s hammer met him half-way, colliding with the flimsy shield the man thought strong enough to protect him.  The shield shattered instantly (as likely did the man’s arms), exploding into fine splinters, which rained down upon the combatants in a dangerous mist. 

The shield had dissolved like tissue in a river, and the hammer continued, unabated.  It punched through the man’s chest, ignoring the elaborate cuirass now barely holding him together, and lobbed his startled shell to the side as Olem swung for another little soldier.

His body joined the growing heap at Olem’s feet to contribute the wet essence of his life to the river of death staining Hadron’s Field.

This certainly does say more, but do you feel the action has been moving at an active pace?  Or does this feel more like the ghostly ride-along during a slow-motion fight scene?

If it seems more like the latter than the former, it probably has a lot to do with the sentence length.  It’s not that all of that information is useless, or distracting; it’s that all that information slows down the pacing.  The perceived amount of time between each blow increases, so the reader has to literally suspend imagining the action to process the rest of the information being offered.

Use this to your advantage and decide what KIND of fight you want to depict:  Is it full of choppy, evocative action?  Or is it a little more informative and introspective?  A balance between the two can make truly dynamic fights.

Which brings us to:

2. Varied Sentence Length

Take a look  at that first example again.  One of the things that helps the action forward is the varied length of the sentences.  This is important to note, because it keeps the passage from feeling repetitive, or cadence-driven.  It can feel very monotonous if the paragraphs all have similar sentence lengths.

Let’s see Olem demonstrate, again.

Spears came at him from the side.  They danced and jabbed at the air.  Olem braced his hammer on the ground.  He reached out with a mighty fist; spears snapped like twigs in his hand.  He used the hafts to swing the men.  Screams joined screams above him.  They flew off into the fray.  Little pockets opened where they landed.

Arrows flew, but just bounced off. 

His armor was of no fancy make.  Not like their elaborate shells.  His was hardened bronto hide; hide was enough with his thick skin.  They couldn’t pierce him if they tried.

Here is the danger of “short, choppy sentences”.  When you pursue “short sentences” over everything else, you can create a scenario that feels like this.  Each sentence alone may not even be bad, or use bad imagery, but when you stack them all together it’s a sea of sameness.

Even when you mix it up with semi-colons; the literal sentence is long, but the pauses and breaks cause it to conform to the same pattern.

SUPER PRO TIP!

When in doubt, read your passages out loud.  Record you or someone else reading them if you still can’t hear where something might be off.  Hearing your voice played back, or hearing how someone else interprets the pauses, can reveal where you need to focus the most when you next edit that section.

Remember: Sentence length = perceived passage of time.  That’s all we’re talking about here when we say sentences should be short for fight scenes.  That doesn’t mean “make them all short”.  It means when you’re writing, and when you read them over, ask yourself how much time you feel has passed between each action.

If it’s too sudden, add some color with a few more words.  If it’s too long, cut out some of that color to bring a sense of immediacy back.

That’s the balance of varied sentence length.

If you want a good formula, try: [Short].  [Short].  [Medium Long].  [Short].  [Long]. [Short].  [Short]

 

—-

Did you enjoy this post?  Do you disagree with anything discussed above?  Please join the conversation at http://www.frowzycafe.forumotion.com and let us know how you feel.

Tell ’em Cordy sent ya. 😉

 

 

Leaden Skies

  

War came. Not as you would expect, on a fiery red horse, but from the Earth beneath us. War grew in the hollows we dug, and festered in the absences we left, waiting for release.

The media showed us pundits yowling about resource consumption — it wasn’t a question of “whether”, but “when”—, and no one could agree on what to do. They pointed at the weather preservers and sipped precious water from blank studio mugs. They waved at distant biospheres and greedily slopped down expensive off-world greens when the cameras looked away.  

But they didn’t talk about the mines.
It seemed like such a small thing then, when it started. Mines would close, dry as a bone, and new ones never opened. The jobless became the homeless, and, in time, the lifeless. A drain on government funding, some argued. Others were too busy dying in the streets to disagree. Favored sons and daughters rode the issue to office, where they lied about the silver.

Too soon they were raiding our hope chests — silver tableware, flatware, tea sets, jewelry, keepsakes, all gone to feed our collective need. It only delayed the inevitable, though. It wasn’t enough to keep catalytic converters in production, or water purifiers in working order.

That’s when we truly became cannibals. Not for flesh, but for resources. Anything and everything that could be scrapped to keep something else running was cannibalized to sate society, and whispers of war became national anthems when they decided someone else had more.

We gather at the county seat to hear the latest propaganda broadcasts on a radio cobbled together from leftovers and remnants; a Frankenstein’s monster of innovation. They speak equally of the bounty of our neighbors’ hoard, and the happiness of those who join the Reclamation to see it brought home.

Happiness.  

The happiness of the walking dead.  

Those proud few who join, never to see home again.

They say “such is the nature of war” from the comfort and security of their palatial bunkers. The rest of us mourn as we farm resources from fields of old technology, and sleep above-ground in fragile houses made of wood and ash.

When the bombs come, we will be the first to go. Then our Mary Shelley radios and Farnsworthian golems will sing to no one of the machinations of our leaders, or the bounty of our neighbors. They will stare at the leaden sky with reclaimed features fixed in place by warped fittings and ancient purpose.

And we will be gone, as if by design.

My great-grandmother thought we would kill the Earth with deforestation and global warming. In the end, though, it was never the planet we were killing; it was ourselves. The planet will limp along in our wake with more than enough microbial resources to start something new, but we will be forever gone.

I say none of this to my daughter as I tuck her into bed, though. For her, tomorrow is not set in stone.

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An Open Letter to DirecTV Guy

#RealityCheck – I’m sorry, you’re right, @DirecTVService Representative on the phone.  I must have completely imagined the attractive technician who came out here and installed the fresh-out-of-the-box receiver in the guest room.  No, no.  Your records showing it was mailed out as a replacement for the unit that stopped working in my grandmother’s room, which I guess I imagined you replacing more than a year ago, but which we never bothered to activate, is totally exactly what’s going on here.  Thank you for clarifying that despite my having seen the man hook up and activate the receiver in the guest room, it’s actually never been used, and is, as stated, the replacement you mailed out.  So, yes, I’ve also imagined every show I never watched through it, being as it was never activated ever.

What’s that?  I can toss out the unusable unit myself with no obligation to ship it back to you?  Your generosity knows no bounds.

Oh, and yes.  I asked if you send replacement remotes because I’m not using the remote from the living room, I’m using the remote that came with the unit that wasn’t installed by a technician when my friend Brian wasn’t boarding here last year.  You have all the answers, DirecTV guy.  You are my guru.  I should bake you a cake.  Oh, wait, do I even know how to bake a cake?  What if I only imagined having baked in the past, and in fact have no idea what a cake is!  Come back, DirecTV guy!  Do I know how to bake a cake?!

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No Shave November (or Why I Can’t Grow a Beard)

[SPOILER: It has nothing to do with gender.]

Legally I’m not allowed to grow a beard. The last time I did the beard grew in with such glory that most of those who looked at it directly were stricken blind, and inevitably fated to descend slowly into madness. Those lucky few who managed to avoid losing their sight gouged out their own eyes to preserve the memory of my beard without interference from everyday visual stimuli.  A blind cult evolved to worship my beard, where lesser beards were sacrificed on an altar of mustache paraffin and beard combs. Panic spread through the bearded community for no beard was safe so long as the cult existed, and with new members joining daily from exposure to my beard, it was quickly becoming a matter of national security; the cult had turned its sightless gaze to President Garfield’s mighty visage.

James A. Garfield’s Beard (pictured with James A. Garfield)



Approached by the president himself, who, having heard the legends and the warnings, swathed himself in black cheese cloth to diminish the devastatingly high levels of glory radiating from each follicle, I was asked to remove all traces of facial hair for the good of the people. I’ve never heard a man speak with more sorrow in his voice than when I heard President Garfield force himself to ask for the destruction of what he called “The Messiah of Beards”; even through the cheese cloth, he could see enough to be profoundly changed by it.

It was a quiet affair, The Shaving. In a cottage stashed in the great Virginia wilderness, I shaved off every last trace of facial hair, gathered it into a basket of wild flowers and ivory combs, and gave it a proper viking funeral on the sweeping currents of the Potomac river. Returning to D.C., the cabinet was sworn to secrecy, and I signed a document swearing never to grow any sort of facial hair again, for the good of the people, and the good of the country. President Garfield wept the silent tears of a man witnessing the death of true beauty.

That document is still kept under lock and key and 24 hour guard in a vault seven miles below D.C. so that even natural disaster and zombie apocalypse has no chance of destroying evidence of my agreement, and testimony of my sacrifice from one of the greatest bearded presidents this country has ever seen.  No pictures exist of my glorious beard, and all texts describing it directly have been burned.  The only record that even acknowledges that it once was is that single parchment long buried in D.C., and the odds of anyone ever finding it are laughable.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you some epic beard to appreciate, so here you go.

Pictured: Not My Beard (but it’s as close as any mortal beard could ever hope to come).

—–

[ABOUT THE AUTHOR’S BEARD]

Her name was Sally, and it’s said she glistened in the sunlight “as if spun of gold, bronze, copper, and the laughter of children”.

[ABOUT THE AUTHOR]

Adalind Monroe is a time-travelling lady maverick who daily says a prayer for her beard in the ancient tongue of the Nords.  When she’s not sighing wistfully from a window seat on overcast days, just like the day she shaved for the first and final time, she writes genre fiction in the fantasy and horror flavors.  If you want to read more by Adalind, check out the Short Story and Flash Fiction sections of the site.  Or, if you want to read LONGER things by Adalind, then just hold onto your breeches: “Prince of Darkness”, an Eleasian novel, is already in the works, and you’re going to love it.

Here’s to you, Sally. I miss you.

—–

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Wendigging the Debate

One man dedicated to fabricating the truth from other fabricated truths: The Real American Hero

Presidential debate correspondent and aggressive pen-monkey, Chuck Wendig, infiltrated the town-hall-styled presidential debate Tuesday, October 16.  As he crouched beneath moderator Candy Crowley’s desk, fogging up his glasses with his own moist exhalations, he tweeted to the public the historical events as they transpired.  This is a complete transcript of Mr. Wendig’s coverage:

Glimpses of Obama pre-debate confirm aggressiveness. He is seen biting a rattlesnake in half and chugging its blood and venom.

Obama then yells: “Welcome to Barack-Town! Population: My Foot In Your Ass.”

Romney wins the coin toss, which means he gets first chance to fake wash a bunch of pots to show his fake support for the poor.

Romney: “I want you to get a job! But China ate them all.”

Romney: “I’m going to make sure you can get hired to make iPhones in a Shanghai sweatshop.”

Romney: “My plan to put people back to work is to undo the Republican dick-jam clogging up Congress’ pipes like an old tampon!”

Obama: “I got a five-point plan, too. Five fingers form a fist and punch Mittens in his crotch-wallet. BOOM.”

Man in audience asks: “Why are you a Muslim Kenyan Martian Socialist Gay Married Christmas-Hater?” Is unmasked as Donald Trump.

Romney just answers the next question by licking his fingers and smoothing his eyebrows, then chuckling.

Romney holds up a golf ball: “This is clean coal!” Then he sets it on fire and warms his hands by it.

Obama: “Truth is, Governor Romney is a lying-faced liar that lies, and his pants are on fire. And full of poop.”

Asked about renewable energy, Romney just squeezes his hair, drinks it, spits it into a Zippo flame and BOOSH.

Now they’re just hitting each other with their microphones. WHUMP BOONG FWUMP FFFMMM BUMP

Obama starts explaining economic theory. Romney makes fart noises and monkey sounds in the background.

(In a brief moment of seriousness, Chuck comments on Romney as being “a smug douchenozzle.”)

Question from audience: “Governor, how do you plan to pay for all your tax cuts?” Romney: “Chinamen. I mean, Keebler elves.”

Romney is now holding the moderator’s head in a toilet bowl he appears to have brought from home.

Romney: “I want to help those middle class families that earn more than a frabjillion dollars per year.”

Upon hearing his name, Bill Clinton rides in on a Kodiak bear wearing a gladiator costume. Bronzed and oiled.

Romney: “I am going to force the wealthy to pay more tax–HAHAHA heehee I can’t do it sorry! I josh! I josh!”

Obama: “Romney’s plan will cost us five trillion dollars.” Romney: “I make that much in a week!”

While Obama is speaking, Romney is wandering around the audience selling snake oil and bad mortgages.

The moderator just pulled out a Taser.

Outside the debate, Big Bird just doused himself in gas and set his golden feathers ablaze.

Romney: “I love affirmative action. That’s a Republican thing, right? It’s not? I hate affirmative action.”

Romney: “I love women. I smack their asses when they do a good job. I give them kisses & candies. They prefer that to raises.”

Romney: “I think abortions are delicious. Wait, what are we talking about?”

Romney: “I GET NEXT ANSWER WAIT SHUT UP ME NOW NEXT FIRST I SAY THINGS NOW STOMPY STOMPY BOO BOO.”

Romney: “I will trade our women to China and that will balance our budget.”

Obama: “I promise to hunt and kill Honey Boo Boo. And film it. Seal Team Six stands ready.”

The moderator is loading a handgun. For herself? Remains unclear.

Obama: “Here is Osama bin Laden’s head. Let us now play kickball with it and end this charade.”

Obama firmly strokes his turgid erection. Bill Clinton and he lock eyes, and share a wink.

Romney: “Obama only did 92% of the things he said he’d do. Zing! Gotcha, nerd! Go back to Kenya!”

Woman asks about immigration. Romney explains that they will serve in an annual “Hunger Games” event.

Romney: “Immigrants can bow out of the Hunger Games provided they agree to serve as building materials.”

Romney explains that his strategy is “to say whatever works to make you like me, When that fails, I will release angry bees.”

Romney: “I sucked four years ago. Hell, I was high on goofballs during the GOP primaries. You shouldn’t quote me.”

(Reflecting on the events with another rare moment of sincerity, Chuck had this to say: “I just want Obama to punch Romney in the ear, Fight Club-style.”)

Obama: “In my next four years I will enact legislation to punish those who interrupt during debates. Seal Team Six is ready.”

Romney just had a terrorist attack in his pants.

Obama gets mad, Shoots lasers out of his eyes. Buzzsaw blades from his mouth.

Obama: “I want to keep guns out of the hands of orangutans, clowns, postal workers, children, grandchildren, and Republicans.”

Romney: “I think children should be raised by guns. Straight guns, Not gay guns. Because, ew.”

Weird. Romney has a dead dog strapped to the top of his podium.

(Gripped by a fever of lucidity, Chuck tweeted: One of these guys is a President. The other is a CEO. Choose wisely.)

The moderator is unlocking a tiger cage.

They pan over the audience. Turns out, undecided voters are basically a pack of unwashed hobos. One guy is sniffing his hands.

Romney: “The key to getting tough on China is enacting legislation to make sure we get crispy, spicy General Tso’s chicken.”

Romney: “I plan on solving immigration by sending Obamacare to China and then shooting Libya with guns and tax cuts.”

The undecided voter audience is now eating one another. I suspect bath salts. Or some kind of Walking Dead voodoo.

Romney: “China hacked my BIOS and made me say all kinds of crazy things during the primaries.”

Last question of the night: “Do you like anal?” Where do they get these people?

Obama and audience member named Barry form a detective team, Barry and Barry. This fall, on ABC.

Real debate: these two dudes seriously do not like one another. I really thought they were gonna start kickboxing or some shit.

—–

As the president and former governor slowly drifted toward their respective females, and the audience cautiously swarmed the celebridential candidates, Chuck had this final observation to offer before strapping on a jet-pack and rocketing through the hall and out the window in the ladies room:

“Both candidates explode. Everyone dies.”

He offered a follow up when spotted later in a tree several blocks away: “The audience of that debate looked like shelves of mummies.”

—–

Chuck Wendig is the spectacularly talented author of MOCKINGBIRD, a screenwriter of indescribable greatness, and free-lance pen-monkey capable of flinging poo with deadly accuracy.  He keeps a regular blog you can (and will) check out immediately, and is highly followable on Twitter as @ChuckWendig.  Go do these things.  Regret will not follow.  Or it will, but it’s the kind of regret you’ll keep reliving alone at midnight with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and your own tears for comfort.

“Set phasers to love me” indeed!

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Why Do We Read?

Pictured: An avid reader.

Maybe the first question I should ask is “Why do we stop reading?”

There’s a problem here. Do you see it? Here, I’ll help you find it: When you stop reading, you don’t SOLVE problems, you CREATE problems, problems you can’t even see coming, because you’ve put on blinders to keep out all the other voices, voices that could teach you things, voices that tell you what to avoid. And yet, this is a thing that many writers have done. Do you see how this might be a problem for you? No? Then how about this: As a writer, when you decide to stop reading, it’s like thinking you’ve figured out the key to never having body odor again is to stop showering.

Take me, for instance. No, I didn’t stop showering.  But, I know I’m not the only writer to have stopped reading the work of others in an attempt to keep the ol’ brain pallet clean of outside influences. The problem with that, however, is that the avid reader I was when I was a child, the reader who couldn’t put down a pencil and stop writing to save her life (despite also not being able to finish any story she started writing), became a shriveled up old hermit lady grumbling in some forgotten recess of my mind while the writer in me starved. The world builder and imaginist thrived well enough, but in the years I wasn’t reading (yes, years), I also wasn’t being very productive, either.

It seems to me that for some reason we think it’s okay for an artist to be influenced by other artists, to have artists producing similar work considered to be part of a movement, but when speaking of writers doing the same, we’re either derivative or “the next <famous author of the same genre>”. Yet H.P. Lovecraft quite openly borrowed from his peers, writing what he called his “Poe pieces” and his “Dunsany pieces” (better known as his Macabre stories [approximately 1905–1920], and his Dream Cycle stories [approximately 1920–1927] respectively). Though he perhaps perfected his unique voice when telling the stories in his Cthulhu Mythos (approximately 1925—1935), it was not for this decade alone that he’s remembered as being one of the greats, or as having a distinctly unique way of telling stories. So why are we so afraid of the influence other writers might have over our work?

Photo courtesy of MiiraT

Pictured: Derivative work.
“I’ll get you, my pretty, and influence all you writing by making you emulate my own!”

Because we’re afraid of that blasphemous term “derivative”. Some of us don’t want to hear that a reader is reminded of Harry Potter, or of Issac Asimov, or of The Last Unicorn, but we don’t really have any control over what a reader’s exposure and experience will impose on the writing once it’s left the carefully crafted shelter of our minds, and limiting our own exposure to these sources only ensures that we’ll be completely incapable of identifying them, and thus incapable of removing or modifying them to avoid the inevitable comparisons.

Writer, teacher, and editor Lori L. Lake once wrote about two aspiring writers she had in a creative writing course who came in with a partially written fantasy story each. During a critique session where the class read sections of each writers’ work, it was expressed that they found their work was “derivative, repetitive, boring, and that it had already been done, re-done, and over-done.” They were crushed by what was news to them. These two aspiring writers had no clue they’d told stories as old as storytelling itself, as neither had read, nor had any exposure to fantasy stories prior to their own forays into the genre. “They spent a lot of time imagining worlds with evil dark lords,” Ms. Lake wrote, “and creating characters who may as well have been Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.” But, when you spend no time acquainting yourself with what already exists, this is exactly the sort of obstacle you face.

But what if you just don’t have the time to read? What if you’re a busy playwright with three murder mysteries on the line, and a three hour tragedy in the works and you can barely find the time to work on those, let alone find time to read someone else’s stuff! To this imaginary and not at all real person I spoke to last night about this very thing, I think Mr. Stephen King has something to say to you.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.

Yes, that was a smack down from one of the masters of modern horror. If you don’t have time to read,

Pictured: Writer tools.

you don’t have time to write. The same five minutes you snatch here and there to scribble on your note pad could be given occasionally to reading a few pages of a book. It’s harder to write while you eat lunch than it is to read, and that right there is pretty compelling as far as arguments go.

But what about these “tools”? Well, our tools are words, aren’t they? When an artist wants to improve their craft, they study the masters. When a writer wants to improve their craft, they read.

Consider this the next time you’re thinking about not opening a book: How, exactly, do you know what a well written story looks like if you’ve stopped exposing yourself to them? It’s easy to decide that most of the books published these days are rubbish, but do you even know why you think that? Have you sat down to really look at what you dislike? Is it the way the characters are written? The sentence length? The sentence structure? How can you avoid the things you hate reading if you aren’t sure what they are? You need to be a critical reader.

A critical reader is one who can analyze the prose in a way that opens up opportunities to learn new methods that might improve their own writing, and methods they might prefer to keep away from entirely. The successful writer is a critical reader. See, it’s not all about reading your favorite authors and saying “Golly gee, if I just use more metaphors about clouds, I’ll be a better writer!” Sometimes it’s about picking up a book by someone you can’t stand and pin-pointing all the little things that make them so difficult to enjoy. It’s not enough to say you hate the short protagonist, though; you have to really take a hard look at what you’re writing and ask yourself if you’ve been doing the same thing, and then correcting it.

In addition to asking yourself what a writer has done that you really enjoyed and practicing those methods, there are a couple of exercises that can help you grow both in your craft and as a critical reader. The first is to take a passage from an author you like and rewrite it with a new focus. Keep true to the events and plot, but change what is meaningful to the reader. The second exercise is to take a passage from an author you dislike and change it into something you wish they’d written. Personally, I think the second exercise is the more helpful, as it forces you to really focus on the methods the original author used to convey the ideas first, and then apply what you think to be better, all the while trying to consciously avoid what you disliked in the first place.

There’s a particular Australian fantasy author whom I personally cannot read. We’ll call her “Terrible”. I made it about six pages into Terrible’s first book in a series before I had to stop myself from setting it on fire. Now, Terrible hadn’t been doing well for herself at any point in those six pages, so she was already on literary probation, but when she used the word “doomed” in three consecutive paragraphs to convey the exact same concept with little to no variation, I threw the book across the room. What did I learn? Other than the fact that Australia needs more writers to challenge her and paperbacks have far too much wind resistance, I learned that repetition without variation infuriates me, and that I think Terrible stole the manuscript from an exceptionally talented five year old before slapping her own name on it.  I learned that the opposite of prose I enjoy is the sort that reuses words that really stand out at the same time it picks words that stand out, and reuses them.

By contrast, two of my favorite authors taught me not only that I can love a story written in first person, but one of them also reminded me that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination, and that it’s okay to take your time getting there.

Pictured: Not winning.

Writers have a responsibility to themselves and to the readers they hope to garner to always keep perfecting their craft. You’ll hear time and again from various sources that there are no new stories, that every story there is to tell has already been told a million times. That sentiment isn’t wrong. When you choose not to educate yourself on the methods used for telling that age old story, you shoot yourself in the foot before you even join the race. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to run a race with a shot-through foot, but winning is pretty difficult.  Mostly you end up passed out on the ground from blood loss just a few yards away from the starting line. Professional athletes call this a “disadvantage”. You put yourself at a similar disadvantage when you decide that reading is only going to distract you, or influence your style beyond your control. I argue that not reading limits your resources, inspiration, and that very same control you think you have in spades, but have diminished through ignorance.

So go on and read already!  What are you waiting for?!

—–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adalind Monroe is an uppity little kick in the pants with a heart of gold who only wants to help you get a jump start on reading to expand your horizons by offering her Lovecraftian short “Don’t Let Her In” for FREE.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

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War of the Words

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Fiction University

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