Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writing crutches

I discovered a new writing crutch of mine yesterday when I was working on finishing a story. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is because that would be showing my weaknesses and there's enough people out there willing to look for flaws in others without me helping the matter by pointing them out ahead of time.

(As an aside, I've had to completely redo the end of this story because the thought of getting caught out on this crutch leaves me terrified.)

But it got me to thinking about all the things we do that we don't even realize we do until somebody points them out to us. Habits we get into. Tropes we keep coming back to. When Pepper and I were writing together, she read enough of my stuff to be able to point out my idiosyncrasies. Like, for some reason, I am loathe to use a character's name at the start of a paragraph. I often will start with the pronoun, then throw the name in later. It often leads to confusion, which means I have to be careful about when I do it. And the thing is, I hadn't even realized I did that until she told me about it.

Discovering yesterday's crutch completely threw me off my game. Wednesdays are killer for me in terms of running around with the kids, so I took a notepad with me to write longhand during my daughter's softball game. We weren't there for ten minutes before I realized what I'd done, and I literally sat there for the next ninety minutes flummoxed and upset. I didn't write another word. In fact, I didn't write another word until ten o'clock last night when I deleted everything I couldn't use (one of my worst nightmares) and tried to segue into something fresher. Today, I have to finish this story so I can get it into my editor on time, and it's difficult because I'm now in questioning mode, doubting everything I'm doing.

We all do it. It's how a lot of us read, too, drawn to specific tropes and themes time and time again. So I just need to figure out why finding this particular one is bothering me so much.

I guess I hate being predictable.

Which is funny considering romance is one of the most predictable genres out there.