Monday, August 11, 2014

Okay, I’ve Got My Pantyhose in a Knot Again by Linda S. Glaz


    
        I’ve taken a g’zillion classes online and at numerous conferences, okay, not exactly a g’zillion, but it feels like it. I also present at conferences. Teach at small groups. And so and so on. And I feel like I’m touting the company line. At least, all that I’ve learned over the last twenty or so years through extensive reading and all of those conferences and classes.
And here’s where I get upset. We are teaching other writers specific basics and rules, and when they enter contests or submit their work the first time around, they are judged by these so-called basics that are expected of them. You know a few of them: no head hopping, cut the adverbs, and avoid as many of the inane dialogue tags as possible and others.
And I have to say, I agree with most of those. Not carved in granite, but I understand the logic behind them. Yes, I understand you have to know the rules before you can break them. But I just finished a bestseller, and I must say, very good historical fiction but it broke them all. Nearly all dialogue tags included adverbs as well as pages of prose with adverbs not sprinkled for flavor, but the main course. And head-hopping? Oh, yeah. I had to keep rereading to be sure who was thinking. I sure wasn’t. I was long lost.
I’m not trying to be a pain, but it feels so wrong to try and help our clients with direction that doesn’t parallel top authors. And yes, I understand story trumps all else, but wouldn’t that bestseller have been even better had it followed some of these ideals that we hold up for scrutiny.
I’ve never minded head hopping as long as the head we are in is clear. I’m not adverse to adverbs like a lot of folks, though I don’t particularly use them, and I don’t mind most dialogue tags. Okay, they do irritate me. Especially men growling and barking and women who purr and coo. I don’t get that. Not at all. In fact, it really turns me off a novel when there’s a bunch of that in place of good old she said/he asked and solid enough verbs that they don’t need the adverbs.
So, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot. We tell writers one thing when judging their entries in contests, when classes are taught, and when most edits come through, but we reward writers, and readers seem to like authors who do exactly the opposite.
Help me out here, I’ve got my pantyhose in a knot again.

12 comments:

Jackie said...

I'm so glad to hear you say this. I recently read a novel by a bestselling author, and I couldn't get over the head-hopping. My husband reads newspapers daily, sports magazines, and all kinds of business articles. It's so rare for him to read fiction and then share a book with me. I didn't want to complain to him, but I was shocked.

Do you think readers today don't care about issues we've been taught to be basics?

Linda Glaz said...

Jackie, if the book he recommended was by a male author I will say, men seem to get away with head hopping, omniscient pov much more often than women do, and I think that is in part because most of their novels are plot driven, so they aren't as concerned with staying in a character's head in order to get to now them as well. It's just an opinion, but I've noticed that with a lot of male authors, and I actually enjoy that from time to time.

Linda Glaz said...
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Jackie said...

It was a male author. Very interesting.

Both of my sons enjoy reading. I may skim through some of their books and study this trend.

My youngest son is 21 and prefers real books to e-readers. I don't know if that's normal or not. But it gives me joy to buy books for him.

Linda Glaz said...

A lot of female authors who have been around for a while do the same thing as that is how she wrote in the beginning, why change? It still works for a good many of them. Mary Higgins Clark is one good example. If it ain't broke, why fix it? And she writes as her readers expect her to.

Linda Glaz said...

Jackie, here's a very interesting post about Omn and head hopping, and some of the differences and how it is used successfully. Enjoy! http://kayedacus.com/2011/01/11/debunking-writing-myths-omniscient-pov-is-bad/

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing the link.

As I read through her examples it occurred to me that it's easier for me to write one scene per POV. All those lessons and lectures must have sunk in. Yay!

Marilyn Turk said...
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Marilyn Turk said...

Linda, thanks for posting this. It also annoys me when I read a book containing adverbs and tags I've been taught not to use, that I've been judged against for using. Sometimes when I write, I think an adverb would fit, but stay away from using it, since it's a "no-no." I don't understand how the books get published that break the rules, but then I guess everyone's not subject to the same rules.

Linda Glaz said...

The good news is, your writing will probably be that much stronger, but I, too, feel like plopping them in now and then, and I do. I try to remember what Terry taught me early on: story trumps all. If the story is so breathtaking that you can't put it down, the little things probably don't matter much.

greenlightlady said...

Linda, this is an excellent and timely post as I continue to edit my MS. I've read that the author needs to write in a way that keeps the reader in the story so deeply that they forget about the writer. As I learn more about the rules, I can see why they're needed. I wish I'd read Self-editing for Fiction Writers before I wrote my novel (Now I want to memorize it...).

I agree there are times when breaking the rules works for the benefit of the book.

I've noticed broken rules, too, in popular novels. It's only distracting if it takes me out of the story (or if I lose track of whose head I'm in).

Right now I'm reading a mystery in which the author loves semi-colons. I'm trying to avoid them in my MS. Linda, is it okay if I use the occasional one ( I miss them)?

Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

Linda Glaz said...

Oh, yes. Colons and semi-colons. But colons are the worst for me. I realize they can be used with quotation marks, but for some reason, I find them very intrusive. I want to see same old same old and they always pull me out of the story when they are used. So few use them anymore is probably why.