When the majority of writers first test their new, literary writing wings like nervous fledglings, most are,
understandably, defensive about criticism. However (unless geniuses), if they refuse to accept that ‘constructive’ criticism is the key to improvement, they will continue to remain unpublished; or if they are… will forever receive a ‘semi-literate’ label.. And, surely, no-one worthy of the title ‘author’ wants to be labelled thus, do they? We all learn (or should) until the day we die, so should never be complacent or self-satisfied with what we write; and with this in mind, I introduce an obviously learned man, called Steve (Stephen) Moran is a writer, poet and the organiser/judge of the Willesden Herald International short story prize. A telling line of his is: “Writers are like taxi drivers. I want them to take me somewhere but wish they would shut up about it.” A succinct message to be sure! The list of his literary dislikes are as long as one’s arm and all worth taking on board. It seems that he dislikes British and American ‘mush’; dreary and morose stories; those which are under or overwritten; ‘skimpy’ writing; and questions uneven pace, style, etc., and much more. Some of his taste is personal; while most of it is valid and noteworthy. (Full list here)
It is all too easy when writing a novel, to get carried away with either the dialogue or action and forget the small, human touches and minute details relevant to everyday life and the characters themselves – unless you are writing pure fantasy, of course (and that needs to be well written too!) Great wads of bland writing don’t augur well for enjoyment. With this in mind, I re-evaluated a chapter I was recently writing and remembered to include mention of the weather (briefly); how the protagonist was feeling at that moment and a few quirky touches that brought it more to life and made it more natural. (I love it when I feel I really know one of my characters!) The new chapter may not be perfect yet, but I am happier with it!
So, use a nit-comb for the nits; feed it if it’s hungry; or prune it like you would an overgrown bush. Or put it on the back burner until tomorrow. It’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can spot.