Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 5:00 AM

I recently moved back to my hometown just in time for one of the best fireworks shows west of the Mississippi—so they say. As I lay on my blanket, I scanned the crowd and a reoccurring theme rolled through my mind: just because a person can do something, doesn’t mean they should. 

Here’s my list of observations from the Fourth:

Just because a girl has boobs doesn’t mean everyone wants to see them, especially if the girl is 14/16ish. What’s up with all the young girls and the boob shirts?

Just because a seven year old can use a sparkler, doesn’t mean a two year old should. Do I really need to explain this? Two year olds are dangerous with popsicles. Markers. Chocolate. Why oh why would an exploding stick be a good plaything?

Just because you have an extra beer doesn’t mean you should give it to your drunken uncle. Just saying.

Just because a person can use the “f” word in the most creative of ways, doesn’t mean he should. I think it’s great that someone is learning to diversify their language by taking a swear word and turning it into an adjective, a noun, an adverb, a verb, a pronoun, a modifier, a whatever else they can. I’m happy you can do so, but not everyone thinks you’re clever.

Just because a person can wear smaller clothes, doesn’t mean she should. I am not trying to dis on larger people, especially since I am not the most svelte girl at the party. What I’m trying to suggest is wearing clothes that don’t cause pain for the wearer because it is too tight or clothes that make wobbly bits look even more wobbly. Looking like a tied up pot roast isn’t as attractive as eating the pot roast. With potatoes. Mmm. And gravy.

Okay, enough of this. You get the point. So how does this relate to writing? 

One of the great things about being an artist is your creation is your own. You can do whatever you want as long as you have someone who appreciates it. We are all starving for approval aren’t we? That’s one of the reasons for this blog. We want validation for our hard work. But just because we have the freedom to write whatever we want doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

*I am not going to go into a lot of detail because most of these can be blog posts of their own. This is just a quick look at a few things to think about. Please add your own in the comments section.

Prologue: Just because prologues and epilogues exist doesn’t mean we have to use them. I dislike them, and I really dislike them when they are used as a ploy or a “dot, dot, dot” moment to create drama, like an artificial hook. Start with the story. If the story doesn’t make sense without one, then maybe throw one in.

Dialect: Just because your character is Irish or British don’t overwhelm us with perfect dialect. It becomes cumbersome and pulls me out of the story. I like a bit of dialect, especially if I find a good line or two I can say out loud, but too much is too much. Add a bit of stuff here and there, the reader will get it.

Swearing: I read The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein not too long ago. It was a book from the dog’s p.o.v. I loved most of it, but the one thing that really bugged me was the few times the author popped in the f-bomb. There wasn't many times. Maybe a handful, but each time it felt weird or out of place. When a writer goes nearly most of the book without using the word and then all of a sudden pops one in, it changes something for me. It sticks out. If it makes sense then I’m good, but when it is unnecessary, I find myself questioning the author in other areas.

Sex scenes: Just because you’re writing a love story or romance doesn’t mean you have to write a sex scene. If you are uncomfortable writing love/sex scenes, don’t do it. It will come off awkward. I know; I suck at them. I leave that stuff to my Rabbit In The Hat Hook’er. She writes some spicy stuff, but she is comfortable and it comes off that way. That shouldn’t dissuade you from writing romance though if you love it. Some of the best scenes are the ones where I was left at the door. Left to my own imagination.

I just picked the first four that popped in my head. If you could write a Just-Because-You-Can list for writing what would you include?


Misty Provencher on July 8, 2011 at 7:36 AM said...

Oh, the ode to the f bomb.
I love that word. It's like licorice strings and Cancun. However, the odd thing about having a bowl full of f bombs is that it has to REALLY be necessary in a story for me to be okay with it. I'm both an f bomb connoisseur and snob when it comes to dumping it in a book. Weird, huh?

Marc on July 8, 2011 at 7:45 AM said...

See, the problem with leaving certain things to the imagination is that it leaves some readers pissed off. Not to visit the go-to bad example of Twilight right away, but my fiancee and her friend loved that series, and one of the things they were pissed about is that for three whole books, Stephanie Meyer teased readers with this grand scene between Bella and Edward finally getting to have sex. *Spoiler Alert* When they finally did (according to their descriptions), it was cut off in one of those "the next morning." Lines. Bogus! When Meyer finally went into detail, it all sounded painful, Bella was, like, broken up and battered and whatnot. Double bogus! I realize it went with the world and situation she's going for, but suffice to say, my fiancee and her friend were absolutely let down that the payoff wasn't way better. *Spoiler over, just in case*

Sometimes, writers choose subject matter that people latch onto...the supernatural, specific jobs or professions, dramatic and violent circumstances involving romantic interludes, whatever...and when that author doesn't follow through when certain scenes come up, it can look like they took a major shortcut.

You're right in saying that sometimes it's best to leave the reader guessing certain things and filling in scenes themselves, but sometimes "leaving it up to peoples' imaginations" can look like a major cop out. The author wants to deal with mature situations, great, but doesn't actually want to go into them in enough detail.

As for bad language, yeah, I do agree there. Sometimes it's unnecessary, but fits better with certain characters than others. Like comparing Clerks and the Clerks cartoon on the basic channels. The cartoon didn't have a fraction of the naughtiness the movies did, but I thought it was just as funny. Though even in the movies, guys like Jay cursed way more than guys like Dante and it worked because that's just who they are. Some people use big SAT words, some people curse more, some are more emotional, some are more shallow, some more analytical, it's all a matter of appropriateness for the mood being conveyed by each narrative, :-)

Honestly, especially when it comes to writing stories about teenagers, I think a good Just-Because-You-Can to mention is when an average, everyday teen without much going on for them is prone to bringing up obscure literary and movie references and uses vocabularies that are way over their heads for what kinds of people they are. It just gives me the impression the author wants to impress themselves more than make their character realistic. :-)

Lyn Midnight on July 8, 2011 at 1:29 PM said...

I love this post! :)

I agree on most points and I love the phrase boob-shirts. Just saying. :D

Just because you've written a NaNo novel doesn't mean you've written a novel. Once it's written you should edit. And you'd think this goes without saying...

Just because you think you know all the grammar rules doesn't mean you should never touch on them or pretend to be a kick-ass editor. We all have blind spots in writing sometimes. ;)

Just because you love your book title, book cover, funny scene in chapter 2, doesn't mean they're the best they can be. It's always good to ask someone for their opinion. But not your mum. Or go around looking for random people, and many of them. And only ask about things that cannot be too subjective!

Ok, I'll stop now. There are probably hundreds of things and I suspect anything I say IS subjective, but then again.. what isn't?! Thanks, ladies! :)

Ready, Aim, Hook Me on July 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM said...

Marc-you are right about the set up and let down. If you're going to "promise" something then you totally have to hold up to your end of the bargain. The same is true for battle scenes. Don't build me up and then let me down with a "I surrender" type scene or something lame. Using Twilight again...I didn't like the series, but I kept reading because I loved the Volturi (spelling?) aspect of it. I wanted that end battle and I didn't get it. I felt cheated. Great examples. I agree with Misty and Lyn too. Thanks for commenting.

Elisabeth Hirsch on July 9, 2011 at 6:17 AM said...

I LOVE this :0) One thing I have a hard time with is when beginning writers labor over certain details forEVER. Once I read about a wedding feast that lasted over fifty pages! It was nuts. Just get to the good stuff, the important parts of the story. Everyone loves a good wedding, but in moderation LOL!

Nancy Lauzon on July 12, 2011 at 5:41 PM said...

This is a perfect outlet to whine about my pet peeve ...

Just because you can bake cookies or apple strudel or cherry cheesecake, doesn't mean you should write a mystery novel and include these recipes, and include tons of scenes with the heroine baking, or eating, or feeding someone else. Enough with the recipes and baking. Write a cookbook if you must ... because the recipes are great, but the mystery novel suffers. I've yet to read a mystery that includes recipes that is REALLY GOOD. So stop it already!

Ahh, that feels better. Thanks, Angela.

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