We hear voices in our heads in the middle of the night. We see scenes in our minds like movies and are compelled to capture them on the page. We look around at the world and notice things, things other people might not see. Writing procrastination—well, that’s just not in our vocabulary.
We are lovers of stories. We gasp at expertly crafted sentences. We smile at innovative turns of phrase. We’re left breathless at the fierce beauty of a story well told.
We are writers. And writers write, right?
The most crushing piece of criticism authors can hear is that their main character is “flat” or “two-dimensional.” This is especially true for writers who have poured a lot of their personal experience into their protagonist’s journey. Conventional writing wisdom tells us that main characters need to be “dynamic” characters who evolve over the course of the story.
But what exactly does “dynamic” mean? If your protagonist doesn’t actually change all that much, does that make them flat and static? Are they, by default, a poorly written character?
Nobody wants their writing to be described as “conventional” or “formulaic,” and in an effort to avoid such damning judgements, many young writers throw themselves past creative writing guides, the rules of writing, and all the catalogues of conventional wisdom, instead opting to carve their own path.
But before you follow suit and bend all the rules to write experimental fiction, there are a few things you need to know.
Writers are a funny bunch. On one point, we are driven and self-aware, capable of exercising massive amounts of discipline when we need to focus on the task at hand. Yet at other times, we’re distracted, self-critical, and destructive.
Part of the doubt writers face comes up because the creative process isn’t an easy thing to experience. It’s incredibly difficult to create something out of nothing day in and day out.
But when you can identify these critical mistakes writers make, you’ll be ready to overcome your doubts and challenges and actually finish your writing projects.
You’ve probably heard the age-old adage of “show, don’t tell” at least a thousand times in your writing career so far. It’s arguably one of the most-used writing tips about. Why then, is it also the one mistake most writers make over all others?
I heard “show, don’t tell” so many times, it became a useless mantra to chant, rather than put into action. I had no idea that by ignoring it, I was actually writing flat, monotonous narrative.
So, what does it mean to show and not tell? Well—it all comes down to drama.