Monday, December 5
Gentle Reminders Beat a Slap to the Head: Why Refreshing What Your Know is a Good Thing
I love reading about witting. There's something about an article that looks at -- say dialog -- in a new way and makes me realize I could improve it if I did X, that gets me all aflutter. It's one of the reasons I love reading writing blogs so much. They're a wonderful way to grow as a writer.
I often point these out to writer pals, and I've had some mention (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Yeah, that's a great blog, but it's all basic stuff. We're way past that." In a way it's true, but in a way, it's not.
It's easy to forget about the fundamentals when they're old hat to you. When you don't sweat over structure, worry over dialog, fret over setting, you don't always look at them as closely as you once did. Sometimes, they suffer because of it. Or if not, they might not be as stunning as they could be, because they're good enough. It's all stuff you know. You're past all that.
I came across a link a while back on a blog I read, which led me to a blog that had links to a bunch of blogs I don't read. I usually check out other blogs like this, because I never know when I'll find a great one to add to my morning reads. I found agent Sara Crowe's blog, and she had an older post about dialog that really made me stop and think.
Now, there's nothing in this post that I don't know already. Of course you want all your characters to have distinct voices. You should be able to tell who's speaking without having a tag. This is all dialog 101 stuff. But I couldn't tell you when the last time I thought about this was. This post made me think, "Gee, have I been doing that?" Does Danello sound differently from Aylin? Is Nya as distinctive as she should be? You can bet your bippy I made a note to check that, and make "check voices" part of my final polish check.
Had I not seen this post, I wouldn't have bothered. Because I know how to write dialog. (not in a cocky way, just, like, we know what we know). But here was a gentle reminder that while I know it, I might not always remember to do it to the best of my ability. There's so much to learn in writing that once you nail something, it's easy to move on to the next piece and not think about the rest.
I think it's a smart move to keep up on the fundamentals, (just like athletes do) to stay fit and sharp. That way we'll know we're always giving 100%, and not setting for "good enough."
Do you ever brush up on the fundamentals? Do you read posts that discuss things you know or focus more on what's new? How do you feel about "reminder posts?"