Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ask O: McCrit Rules Part 2

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!

Last week we looked at part one of McCrit's writing rules--Vernonica's and Annette's. Today we'll check out Dawn's and mine. Enjoy!

Dawn’s Rules
  1. All sentences shall make sense. Dawn rocks at noticing confusing or unclear writing. I’d written that something could “give way” to something else. In my head it made sense, but she showed me that it could have two very different meanings.

  1. Head-hopping shall forever cease. It’s easy to slip out of a character’s point of view without even realizing it. While in Joe's POV, you might find this: “Like a typical guy, Joe loved machinery.” This doesn't work because a man would never refer to himself as a “typical guy.” Subtle slips like this happen. That's why I'm so grateful for my critique group to catch this stuff.

  1. The prose shall flow. Choppy, overly long, or just plain awkward sentences perish under Dawn’s critique.

  1. The same word shall not be used repeatedly. Actually, we all pretty much despise the repeated word issue. You know, “She pursed her lips as she bought the purse in the purse department.” It happens to all of us. Critique partners help to catch them.

Ocieanna’s Rules
  1. The level of POV shall be deep. I’m a broken record, constantly saying, “Go deeper into the character. I want to feel her. I want to be her.”

  1. Thou shalt show not tell. My McCritters know this rule, of course, but we all need to be reminded. Don’t say, “She enjoyed being with him.” Show a scene of her enjoying him. Don’t say, “She felt sad.” Show her fighting back tears, or, even better, a scene where her sadness is so real, it needs no explanation.

  1. Clich├ęs shall be banished from the land. I just can’t handle them. One that drives me over the edge is, “Heat rose to her face.” If I see that, watch out. I may throw your manuscript out the window.

  1. The story world shall be real. I want to smell the stench of the cargo hold your character tarries in. Make me taste the foul gruel and then the relief of fresh water. I want to feel the hero’s rough, carpenter’s hands on her skin. I want to sit on the sofa with your character and watch as he makes me dinner.
Bonus: A few more, no extra charge.   

  • No info dumps!
  • No author intrusion!
  • Good chapter length. 
  • First chapter checklist. 
  • Story question in first few pages.
  • Ground reader in storyworld in first chapter.
  • Interconnected themes.
  • Fatal flaw.

Got it? Seeing these rules jotted down in one spot reminds me how hard it is to create awesome writing. It can be overwhelming, but the number one rule for me and all my McCritters is prayer. As we struggle to grow in excellence, our Lord guides us. With Him (and a fresh dose of McCrit rules) our writing will soar. 

God bless and happy writing!